Various venues, London.

On paper, it’s a remarkable combination. Pop’s most popular duo, The Pet Shop Boys, have written their first musical, Closer To Heaven with Jonathan Harvey of Gimme, Gimme, Gimme fame. In the tiny Arts Theatre, it is ingeniously staged, with a great set, nifty choreography and some pzazz.

Set in gay clubland, it tells the story of 18-year-old ‘straight Dave’, just over from Ireland, who begins a relationship with the boss’ daughter, only to discover his true sexuality with ‘Mile End Lee’, a young East End drug pusher. The music is loud, repetitive and in desperate need of irony. ‘We Need A New Role Model’ is cringeworthy and the last act’s simplistic ‘don’t take drugs’ message is laughable. Very much geared towards the Old Compton Street pink pound, the musical is peopled by Muscle Marys in scanty clothes and lacks insight or complications. Frances

Barber as 70s pop diva Billie Tricks is on great form but Paul Keating as our possibly straight hero never


Tennessee Williams’ 1955 southern drama Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is a masterpiece about sex, and the way our inability to talk about it destroys lives. The writing is eloquent, poetic, profound, with moments of crudity expressed in the most exquisite manner. The smouldering sparring of Liz Taylor in a silk slip and blue-eyed, pyjama-clad Paul Newman is the stuff of Hollywood legend, so how does the stage production at the Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue compare?

Hollywood hunk Brendan Fraser (so good as the gardener in Gods And Monsters) takes the lead as the wounded alcoholic ex-football jock, plagued with personal demons about his sexuality, while Frances O’Connor (the wife in Al.) plays his increasingly desperate wife, determined for her loathing husband to impregnate her so they can keep the family fortune. It calls for heat, passion and great stage presence but


How many women get so worked up they want to shout and scream and find something to hit? Well Judging by the numbers of women drummers. in SheBoom there are hundreds.

SheBoom blasted into existence back in 1993 when a group of women drummed on the suspension bridge across the Clyde for Clasgay! The music and performing was so infectious that they have carried on for the past eight years. The group is made up of '30 women of various backgrounds. ages. sves and sexuality and they all have one thing in common: they want to play percussion in an all-women enVironment.

They describe their music as a mix of rhythms With influences from Afro- Bra/ilian Samba. African, Latin American. Celtic and European. a sound which they have taken to various parts of the world. Having just returned from Bilbao where they were performing at the Festival of Witches they have also performed at the Royal Albert Hall as well as providing the percussion on the Pet Shop Beys

74 THE LIST -'. tti (m met

Pet Shop Boys’ first musical has little power but much pzazz

neither of the leads have it. Ned Beatty as the cancer- ridden Big Daddy brings the much needed energy but

Anthony Page’s safe production with poor off—stage


1996 single 'Se A Vida E'.

Although not a political group. SheBoom support many campaigns and events, including Clasgayf. Pride. Rape Crisis. Women's Aid and Faslane Peace Camp. Their political and sexual stance is not the main reason that women jOlll the group, with some looking for solidarity. others wanting to meet new friends and other ; just wanting to beat hell out of drums.

SheBoom keep thew feet on the

atmosphere doesn’t rivet.

Mark Ravenhill, the shock-tactics playwright of Shopping And Fucking, takes over the National Theatre’s main stage with Mother Clap ’3 Molly House. Unlike his first work, the characters here are humane and live in a plausible environment, mainly an 18th century dress-hiring shop where mollies (gay men) hire clothes, dress up and act out alternative family

However, this contrasts with a later contemporary sex party with embarrassed actors waddling about in Calvin Kleins, harnesses, indulging in the most unconvincing anal and oral sex. If only the production wasn’t so pantomime set and caricatured characters, if only it wasn’t so schematic and moral in its condemnation of sex. If only Ravenhill the writer had subtlety and skill. (John Binnie)

SheBoom bang the drums

ground by running coininunrty based \.'\./orkshops which create an ()lll()()‘.‘.’(‘:l'|llt} space for \.'-./()lll()ll. allowing them to be thenisel\.'es while being experimental and creative. the drumming also enables them to release all their tension and aggression of the day. With their eighth birthday coming up you can only hope they don't have a bad one. i.Jane l'létlllllltflll I (II-H 9:32 8621! (3:99 4,719]. www.sheboomco.u/x.

Gay gossip

LOTHlAN’S GAY MEN’S Health, the independent charity concerned with HIV prevention, wants to reach out in new ways to the gay community. So it’s inviting everyone along to its AGM on Wednesday 17 October at 7.30pm at Edinburgh’s Club Ego in Picardy Place. Instead of stuffy boardrooms and a secretary taking notes, there will be free food, special awards and stand-up comedy from the provocative Cormac O’Hara. From 9.30pm onwards there’s a special one-off club with DJ Dale delivering commercial dance and pop. Go along and support a good cause. ALI SMlTl l. Tl lF LESBIAN novelist. is the only Scot noininated for the Booker Pri/e ‘.‘.’ltll Hotel l.’/or/d. a collection of stories set in a guest house. Up against hear, hitters such as Ian M(:l“\.'.'aii and Peter Care”.

the former Scot/am: on Sum/fa}: columnist desenres to succeed. Meanwhile. Billy Connolly. in the new biogiaphy \‘J'lllCll by his psychiatrist ‘.'."lf(3 Pamela Stephenson has adi'iitted to haying had gay experiences x'rith inen. though. eventual'y these experiences didn't fulfil.

The Big Yin opens up

THERE’S LONG BEEN A demand for same-sex dance classes, where gay folk can go along and not feel pressurised into partnering up with the opposite sex. So thank goodness for the newly opened, enterprising Dance Base in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket (see feature), where each Saturday from 4.30-6pm you can enrol in same-sex Salsa classes. Your teacher will be the lovely Alba Higgins, all the way from Venezuela, who promises to teach in a different fabulous frock each week. Open to beginners, it’s a great opportunity to strut your stuff.