So, the year is 2012 and Brixton Clubhouse is reviving a show that is set around the mid-1980s but which is actually from 2002; except it is (very approximately) a third original production, a third Broadway remake, and a third new material. The mixture of all these disparate elements is all interesting history to Taboo, but what other backstory would you expect of a show that is a near-fictive retelling of the rise to power of Boy George?
Taboo was the name of the club night run by Leigh Bowery between 1985 and 1987. The show centres on Billy, a Bromley boy who runs away to city, who is befriended by squatmates Kim, a punk fashion designer, and George, an aspiring singer/songwriter. Through Billy, we are taken on a whistlestop tour of the polysexual punk that was a defining moment of London in the 1980s as well as documenting (with more than a little artistic licence) the life and career of Boy George. This is a nostalgia-driven reminiscence of the New Romantics, Culture Club, Bowery, the Blitz nightclub and its owner Steve Strange, Marilyn and Philip Sallon with lyrics by Boy George himself.
Accuracy, be damned. None of these people have much care for the facts, who can remember them entirely when you’re watching Petal, a violent cross-dressing drug dealer – a man in a miniskirt – threatening to kill a kid with a camera? This was London’s Studio 54 (or the closest we’ve ever come to it) and its peppered with a series of once-in-a-lifetime cast of characters, nearly all of them based on real people. This is the first time Brixton Clubhouse has shown a theatre production, and it is perfect timing for Taboo’s revival, which was written specifically for the venue. It’s 1980s excess and decadence all over again. This is one last hurrah before we all move on.
Taboo is at Brixton Clubhouse until 23 December.