Velvet is a semi-autobiographical play exploring harassment within the entertainment industry. Tom is a struggling actor dreaming of stardom. He nervously declines drinks with a casting director and is then blocked from casting, did he misread the signs? He makes contact over an online dating site with an American called Daniel and they soon move to WhatsApp where Daniel claims to be a casting director and promising Tom a role in the latest Star Wars film. Tom soon faces a choice between doing the sexual acts Daniel asks or not and potentially risking his career.
Writer and performer Tom Ratcliffe plays Tom, as well as casting agents, his mother and friends. The character of Tom was very self-aware in parts and naive in others, especially in the wake of the scandals and allegations that have rocked the entertainment industry in recent years. Ratcliffe also plays. The play jumps between settings, time and people quite quickly. This one-man play lasts an hour and for the most part is engaging, though it does seem to drag towards the end, before picking up the pace again.
The set is simple with a black and white checkered tiled floor and a screen to display the text messages. The red chaise lounge is the only furniture and is of course a nod to the infamous ‘casting couch’. We hear Daniel’s sinister voice over the telephone, emphasising detachment and anonymity. Minimal props are used to ensure that the audiences’ focus remains on themes of the play. Velvet was directed by Andrew Twynan.
It is positive that Velvet addresses online exploitation and coercion in this modern climate. It is also positive that Velvet shows the #Metoo movement from the perspective of a gay male. However, in terms of the interplay between sex and power in the entertainment industry, it did not really add to the literature. Of course, Velvet reinforces that all sexual assault and harassment should not be tolerated and that we as a society cannot remain silent but need to speak up.
Above The Stag is the UK’s only designated LGBT+ theatre. It is located only a few minutes walk from Vauxhall Station. An open-plan bar stocks a wide range of spirits, wine and beers.
Velvet runs from 2nd to 27th October 2019. The times vary depending on the date:
⁃ 2nd-5th October at 7:45pm
⁃ 6th October at 6:15pm
⁃ 9th – 26th October at 9pm
⁃ 13th, 20th & 27th at 7:30pm
⁃ no performance on Tuesday 8th or any Mondays.
Tickets cost £20 and are available from the official website listed below.
Phone: 020 3488 2815
Facebook: Above The Stag Theatre
Written by Caitlin Neal