Stephen Frears has always been good with queens. And they don’t come much bigger than Joe Orton, the swinging ’60s playwright so memorably brought back to life by Gary Oldman in this 1987 biopic now celebrating it’s 20th anniversary with a run at London’s ICA. Fresh from portraying another counterculture icon in Alex Cox’s Sid And Nancy, the 29-year-old Oldman could hardly have been better cast as the cocksure genius whose saucy farces turned the West End stage on its ear. Twenty years on, though, it’s co-star Alfred Molina who proves the more impressive as the tragic Kenneth Halliwell, the put-upon ‘wife’ who languished in Orton’s shadow before guaranteeing himself macabre immortality with nine hammer blows and a bottle of Nembutal. Served the choicest cuts from Alan Bennett’s pithy script, Molina’s hilarious “Have a wank?” speech (“It’d be easier to raise the Titanic!”) emerges as a virtual tour de force.
Prick Up Your Ears review
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