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Handel's Cross

CCA, Glasgow
Three stars
A man sits onstage at a candle-lit table adorned with wine goblets and 
other dinner party accoutrements. Dressed up in eighteenth century 
finery, the man could be some kind of role-playing maitre d if it 
weren't for the leather trousers and shades that give him more the air 
of the Marquis de Sade. As it turns out, both are true in Martin 
Lewton's new piece for Theatre North that forms part of Glasgay!'s 
twentieth anniversary programme.

Newton comes on dressed in suit and tie in what turns out to be an 
approximation of a fetish dungeon in Andrew McKinnon's production, 
though over the next fifty minutes he will deliver his unflinchingly 
intimate monologue almost naked while chained to a wooden St Andrew's 
Cross as McKinnon himself takes on the role of the de Sade like 
gate-keeper. As Lewton unveils his fantasy of the man he calls Fat 
Handel and his imagined lust for a boy castrato, McKinnon administers 
assorted physical aides to Newton to help move his story along. That 
these include nipple clamps, dog food and hot candle wax speak volumes 
about where Newton is coming from.

As the brief flourish of Giorgio Moroder and  Donna Summer's ultimate 
hedonist's anthem, I Feel Love, suggests alongside the triumphal blasts 
of the Messiah, Newton's concern here is with  the sexual charge behind 
great art which in turn can result in a form of quasi-religious 
transcendence. There's the blurred lines too between agony and ecstasy 
that fuel them all. None of which is anything new, though even laid 
bare so publicly, it makes for an oddly un-erotic theatre of voyeurism.

The Herald, October 17th 2013

ends 

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