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Theatre review: McQueen @ St James Theatre

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★★☆☆

On one side of me sees a snake skin blazer, the other, a scent of Moet and a decorated Alexander McQueen wrist jingling with every slight movement. It seems as if Alexander McQueen is in vogue; the new black, to say.

Five years after the iconic fashion designer’s suicide, the V+A are saturated in their Savage Beauty exhibition and now a new production by James Phillips. Having broken records for highest grossing advanced sales and a twitter handle plagued in complimentary and good luck messages, McQueen The Play was definitely a highly anticipated piece.

McQueen

The story blurs biography with fairy-tale, following Lee (Alexander) McQueen discovering onlooker Dahlia in his storehouse. Dahlia, played by Glee star Dianna Agron, forces Lee to make her a dress and become his muse for a collection; The Girl Who Lived in the Tree collection.

Lee is played by Stephen Wight, an almost perfect casting and uncanny reference to our late McQueen. He manages to perfectly balance wit and comedy with melancholic passages. Wight impressively displays how Alexander split at the seams, sewed his heart and mind into his creations and perfectly  The universally acknowledged understanding of what becomes to Lee a day before his mother’s funeral brings the tone of everything down a bit.

Dianna Agron, however, falls flat on her feet and it’s not because of her McQueen shoes. Playing a tormented girl who wants more than just a dress is a role that is perfectly tailored for someone like Agron, but her monotony destroys all sense of character. Her role as a “shitty ghost”, as Lee describes her, would’ve been better/ 

The production feels like another stale and modern rendition of a Shakespearean piece. Soliloquy’s, the essence of “woe is me” and the ever-present golden skeleton gives Hamletesque qualities to Phillips’ script.

It’s layered and smothered in pretentious superficiality. There’s a lot to compliment about the staging, but there’s nothing behind that. Nothing.

The red headed twins, alluding to a previous collection, embed McQueen's nature of creativity, bring a sense of haunted minds.

They fabricate (pardon the pun) traditional values in fashion and how important McQueen was from breaking away from that and that he was far more than just a "plastic god". The production addresses what being valued means, through judgements of men and magazines. 

Though a production, film, exhibition or runway will never be able to even begin to reimagine McQueen's mind, this an ok job. 

Until June 27th, St James Theatre

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