Variety, May 19, 1997
By Julio Martinez
(Sir Ian McKellen's) virtuosity is intact as he chronicles his life onstage and off through brief but tantalizing performance excerpts, culled from such diverse contributors as Shakespeare, William Blake, Tennessee Williams, Armistead Maupin, David Hockney and others.
McKellen delves into his exquisitely developed repertoire of characters, honed from more than 30 years of stage and film performances.
With awe-inspiring virtuosity, McKellen flows in and out of the poetry of Blake and D.H. Lawrence, King James I's letter to his homosexual lover, an excerpt from the autobiography of Williams and two riveting scenes from Shakespeare's Coriolanus.
The chosen material makes very obvious that McKellen is onstage primarily to heighten our awareness of the difficulties homosexuals have faced throughout history to gain acceptance, dignity and respect. He accomplishes this with devastating effect as he chronicles the 1895 conviction and imprisonment of the immortal playwright Oscar Wilde for his homosexual activities (the laws are still on the books in England), and caps the evening with a mesmerizing synopsis of Christopher Marlowe's 1592 dramatic history of England's King Edward II, who was assassinated because of his homosexual commitment to his lover Galveston.
Copyright 1997 Reuters Limited
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