Back after it became one of the unexpected hits of the period when theatre was starting to open up in the early summer of 2021, Jack Holden’s one man show which takes us straight back to Soho in the 1980s and the London gay scene just at the moment when AIDS started to decimate the community. It is a warts and all portrait, which celebrates the camaraderie but also the bitchiness as it evokes a lost world. Holden is terrific at bringing so many vivid characters alive in the face of creeping death.
The “stunning, joyful and wholeheartedly life-grabbing” (The Guardian) CRUISE The Play is the true story of what should have been Michael Spencer’s last night on earth, performing live for a strictly limited season at the Apollo Theatre. Following the phenomenal success of its maiden voyage at the Duchess Theatre in 2021, CRUISE returns to the West End to dazzle audiences once again. When he’s diagnosed with HIV in 1984, Michael is told he’ll have four years to live – at most. So, with the clock ticking, he and his partner Dave decide to sell their house, flog the car, and spend everything they have to party like it’s the last days of Rome. When Dave dies two years later, Michael doubles down on his hedonistic ways, spending what little he has on drink and drugs. On the last night of his four-year countdown – the 29th February, 1988 – Michael decides to go out with a bang. He puts on his favourite jacket, heads for Soho, and embarks on a long night of farewells. He says his goodbyes, dances, sings, and says yes to everything and everyone. Then, with all his affairs taken care of, Michael promptly… survives. Michael got lucky. He’s been given the gift of life; but what kind of life can he now live? Based on a true story and centred on one night in Soho, CRUISE is a celebration of queer culture; a kaleidoscopic musical and spoken word tribute to the veterans of the AIDs crisis; an urgent piece of theatre, with an irresistible 80s soundtrack, which will make you laugh, cry, and which inspires us all to live every day as if it’s our last.
Join the multi-talented Jack Holden in this enthralling one-hander, written and performed by him – Cruise the play. Tickets are only available for a strictly limited run of this engrossing drama. Based on a true story, Holden plays a young man volunteering on a shift at Switchboard, the LGBT+ listening service, who finds himself talking to Michael, an older man who shares his stories of living through 1980s London in the AIDS crisis.
Cruise the play reviews have flooded the production with praise: 'A tour de force, the toast of the town' ★★★★★ says The Telegraph, ‘A stunning return to lost gay London’ – The Guardian, continuing ‘Stunningly funny and utterly charming, Holden is enchanting. He fills the stage to the point where you forget he’s acting alone.’ The Gay Times gives it 5/5 saying ‘It’s not just an incredible tour-de-force for Jack Holden; it’s a potent reminder of the power of live theatre, and we’re absolutely thrilled to have it back.’
Cruise the play is at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, in the heart of London’s theatreland. With help from an atmospheric electronic score from John Elliott of The Little Unsaid fame who joins Holden onstage to play live, Cruise the play takes us through the events leading up to what should be Michael’s last night on earth – February 29th 1988. Dealt the blow in 1984 that he is HIV positive and has just four years to live, Michael and his partner Dave sell all their possessions and take to partying like there’s no tomorrow. Dave’s death in 1986, takes Michael to new extremes of hedonism, and then, one night in 1988 he dons his favourite jacket and heads to Soho for one final fling before he dies. In turns warm, funny, affectionate and heartbreaking, Cruise the play is both an uplifting tribute to queer culture and the veterans of the AIDS crisis.
Cruise the play is written and performed by Jack Holden of War Horse fame, with score, sound design and performance by John Elliott. Bronagh Lagan is the director, and Nik Corrall is set & costume designer. Responsible for lighting design is Prema Mehta. Stufish Entertainment Architects are set & projections designers.
Cruise the play has a strictly limited run from Saturday 13 August until Sunday 4 September. You’ll not want to miss out on the chance to see this life-affirming production which is Olivier-nominated for Best New Play so go get your Cruise play tickets now.