STAR quality is something that La JohnJoseph exudes. It’s not just his androgynous looks but an ability to dominate a stage to the extent that you can’t take your eyes off him.
The Merseyside-born writer/performer has created a stage autobiography of his life in Liverpool and New York that crackles with good writing and fascinating stage craft.
He is first discovered on top of a wardrobe and then descends to tell a story of a rough upbringing with a promiscuous mother, an angst-ridden time in a Catholic school and teenage days in Liverpool’s gay clubs and public lavatories.
Constantly changing costume from dresses to school uniforms (and once totally naked), he provides a non-stop monologue of life as a pretty boy who was often mistaken for a girl and who finally adopts female dress and life-style.
His stories of New York are vivid. Moving there to help run a hotel that turns out to be a youth hostel, he runs into rough guys, drag queens and work as a writer of horoscopes for a lesbian magazine.
It’s all rather wild and in other hands sensationalist, but JohnJoseph’s language is literary, intelligent and interspersed with excellent singing.
Aided by co-performers Erin Hutching and Ed Jaspers, his story is both entertaining and illuminating and, yes, very different.
Sarah Chew directs JohnJoseph’s own script against a busy set from designer Myriddin Wannell that looks like a junk shop but which adds to the production’s intriguing mood.