Secret Boulevard - REVIEW
Critic Phil Roe reviews Secret Boulevard at The Courtyard Theatre in Bowling Green Walk, Pitfield Street, N1
CLOSETED gay Hollywood stars are making audiences swoon this month at Hoxton’s Courtyard Theatre – with “scenes of a sexual nature and nudity” according to the warning on the flyer.
Set in 1949 and 1989, Secret Boulevard wittily exposes Hollywood’s hypocrisy and homophobia when its latest heartthrob, Patrick Glass, falls in love with his matin�e idol co-star, the Rock Hudson-like Jackson Harper. If the affair becomes public, they can kiss their careers goodbye.
Forty years on, in 1989, the elderly and still-closeted Patrick shares his regrets with his son’s East German mail-order bride, Eva, who also doubles as his home help. Eva fled her country for freedom in the West; Patrick, and many like him since, couldn’t escape Hollywood’s repressive regime.
Emerging playwright Dylan Costello emphasises that while Secret Boulevard can be marketed as a “gay play”, it will appeal to anyone interested in the supposed “Golden Age of Hollywood”.
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An illuminated sign above the stage alternates between Hollywood and Hollywoodland (as it used to be called) to effectively indicate when we’re in 1949 and 1989.
The set includes a backlit white screen whose silhouettes conjure an old film atmosphere, and makes great use of the Courtyard’s space, which is little bigger than a closet itself.
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The diverse mix of well-acted characters includes a bullying studio boss and fabulously acid-tongued gossip columnist.
With the web awash with rumours of numerous closeted Hollywood A-listers even in this day and age, Secret Boulevard sadly isn’t as much of a period piece as you might expect. Go see.