We were thrilled to see Islington’s excellent LGBTQ+ pub theatre The King’s Head pick up Grey Widow following the cancellation of this year’s Vaults Festival. This one-person drag monologue, the brainchild of drag artist Lady Aria Grey, promised to be something quite special – winner of the 2019 London Horror Festival Playwriting Competition, it tells the story of the titular widow as she recounts her husband’s life, his death… and his restless ghost. It turns out that she murdered him, you see, but didn’t do a very good job of it.
She may be dressed in black, but is hardly in mourning – there was a lot more to their marriage than may initially meet the eye. Over the course of an hour we learn more about Lady Aria Grey – AKA Callum Tilbury – and her husband, their work, their parties, and their nosey neighbours who have a penchant for Waitrose wine (a gag which lands well with this Islington audience).
It’s not a conventional monologue presentation – The King’s Head is a relatively intimate and limited venue, but the staging and technical elements of this work have been carefully considered to maximise what is possible here and there’s surprising variety in the show. We have drama, we have comedy, we have creative use of props, we even have some lip sync moments. Callum has a commanding stage presence and knows how to make a dramatic entrance; this is utilised to good effect.
We had an enjoyable hour with Grey Widow – there are some genuinely laugh-out-loud funny moments and it’s a really stylish production – we appreciated the aesthetic here. On occasion it felt slightly like an opportunity to test ideas – a bit like a promise of potential yet to come as opposed to the polished final article – but this delightfully dark drag performance still makes for an entertaining show. Unfortunately it has quite a limited run which may well be over by the time you read this but certainly one to watch out for in the future – we’re sure Lady Aria Grey has plenty more up her sleeve.
GAY TIMES gives Grey Widow – 4/5
More information can be found here.