Andrew Barron and Jessica Beck of Bad Penny Theatre have found a way of both separating the music from our modern-day repugnance, and examining the nature of that repugnance in this clever, very funny but ultimately tragic one-man show.
Barron stars as Sam, a broken man sitting alone on a park bench, waiting for the only person who will still talk to him, his niece. His reflection on how he got to this point takes him back to a childhood brought to life by seeing Glitter on Top of the Pops, his failings as a singer in his own band and his eventual reinvention of himself as a Gary Glitter tribute act after appearing on Stars in Their Eyes.
It is a remarkable performance. Not least because the production allows the audience to see Barron's rendition of Glitter's music, karaoke though it might be, with eyes which are not, yet, effected by any associations with paedophilia. Barron also creates a character who has come to take on the manner of one who is guilty himself through other people's belief in his guilt by association.
This is rather more than a clever way of allowing us to hear Glitter's music with innocent ears. Although, with judicious amount of cleverly designed back-lighting and a wardrobe packed with splendidly tasteless skin-tight glitter costumes, it does that with remarkable authenticity.
Under Beck's clear direction Barron is able to examine one man's capitulation to external force through keeping his own, internal faith. And the play as a whole examines the idea of how an artistic representation of an object or a person can come to acquire all the characteristics, both wanted and unwanted, of that which it is representing.
- Thom Dibdin