“Never get into a narrow double bed with a wide single man.”

Words to live by.

To this day we have never seen, and nor are we likely to, another quite like Quentin Crisp. A flamboyant model, author and reluctant socialite and social commentator, Crisp wrote and spoke about everyone and everything, and is hailed as being the the first openly gay man.

In his play, Resident Alien, Tim Fountain draws inspiration directly from Crisp’s memoirs. It’s basically his most important life lessons packed into an intense 80 minute monologue.

Resident Alien 2Performing this monologue is the magnetic Paul Capsis, with a voice like a melody and a physicality that is undeniably accurate. But his performance is so much more than a recreation. Capsis captures the essence of Crisp, from his well-hidden vulnerability to his disdain of practically everyone. “Every morning say to yourselves, preferably aloud, ‘Other people are a mistake!’” he shouts with gay abandon (no pun intended). It’s grotesque and uncomfortable, watching such a man living this decrepit existence, especially when you can see what he can be — on opening night there were audible moans of delight as Capsis put on the iconic hat, completing the transformation from feeble old pheasant into preened peacock.

Directed by Guy Abrahams, the whole production is suitably sordid. The set, designed by Romani Harper, is gorgeously grim and detailed, and it was a nice touch when the egg sizzled as it hit the pan.

For lovers of Crisp and followers of his life, Resident Alien will be like reading a favourite book, full of memorable quotes and recognisable moments. For those who’ve not yet been introduced to this complex, wonderful man, you’re in for a treat. Do yourselves a favour and go.

Playing at the Seymour Centre until July 23rd.

Alana Kaye – Theatre Now