RESIDENT ALIEN

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

21/03/2017 - 01/04/2017

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

20/08/2013 - 24/08/2013

Production Details



THIS ROOM IS MY DRESSING ROOM AND THE WORLD IS MY STAGE 

The multi-award winning one-hander based on the life of and musings of gay raconteur Quentin Crisp flaunts its way to The Basement Studio. Resident Alien, starring Roy Ward, may play the intimate studio space, but its message would resonate in even the biggest venues. 

… his witticisms and humour make Oscar Wilde seem like a dullard.– The Guardian

Come upstairs to Quentin Crisp’s famously filthy New York apartment where England’s best loved Stately Old Homo is waiting to tell you how to be happy. Life. Love. Marriage (gay, royal and otherwise).  Mass murder. Margaret Thatcher. Sex. And the secret of never having your heart broken.  The 90-year-old Professor of Style explains it all and delivers his personal recipe for self-fulfilment. 

An iconoclast within – and without – the gay community, Crisp came of age in London in the 1920s, an era when being openly gay was especially dangerous.  The young Quentin looked for love as a rent boy but found only degradation and spent three decades as a life model before penning his autobiography The Naked Civil Servant, which led to a hugely popular television adaptation starring John Hurt and thrust Crisp into the international spotlight.  At an age when many people move to nursing homes, he moved to New York and became the “Resident Alien” of the play’s title. 

English playwright Tim Fountain says of Crisp,  “Quentin was a flirt, a tease, a profound conservative and a left wing radical, an Edwardian gentleman and an anarchist, a hater of the establishment and yet an upholder of some of its values.  In short, a great, glittering contradiction and truly one of the most vivid, original and entertaining characters of the twentieth century.  He took the raw materials of his life and fashioned it into the wit and wisdom that became his trademark.  He was absolute proof that life is not about what happens to you but the way you deal with it.  He was an individual in a world increasingly populated by droids”.

Roy Ward is looking forward to bringing Crisp back to life –  he died in 1999 just as the first production of this play reached the stage – and recreating his notoriously shabby East Village apartment in the Basement Studio, with the help of set designer Jessika Verryt. 

Ward hopes the play will attract a wide audience.  “Quentin hated the idea of being ghettoised in the gay community.  He says in the play ‘I see my life as a slow journey from the outer suburbs of ostracism almost to the heart of the world – assuming it has a heart.  I would not wish to be shunted into a siding.’  It’s intriguing to wonder what he would have made of gay marriage.”

This is the first solo show of Ward’s 30-year acting career.  He is a former Associate Director of Auckland Theatre Company where his directing credits include My Name Is Gary Cooper by Victor Rodger and Noel Coward’s Design For Living.  His most recent production Black Faggot, also by Victor Rodger, played at the Basement earlier this year and won four Auckland Fringe Awards including Best Theatre Production.

RESIDENT ALIEN plays
August 20th – 24th, 6:30pm
Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Avenue, CBD
Ticket prices: $25, $22
Bookings: iTicket – www.iticket.co.nz or 09 361 1000  

2017 RETURN SEASON

Come upstairs to Quentin Crisp’s famously filthy New York apartment where England’s stately old homo is waiting to tell you how to be happy. From Princess Diana to mass murder, Margaret Thatcher to oral sex, to Oscar Wilde and the secret of never having your heart broken, the 90 year old Professor of Style shares his unique vision of the world and his very personal recipe for self-fulfilment. “Never try to keep up with the Joneses, drag them down to your level – it’s cheaper”. Tuesday 28th March: Labour/Greens Fundraiser with all proceeds going to these parties

Playwright, Tim Fountain. Performer and director, Roy Ward.

“Roy Ward nails Quentin Crisp”– Sam Brooks, Lumiere Reader

“Ward purses lips, flutters hands, bats mascara’d eyelashes and keeps his knees together beautifully.” – NZ Herald

“a highly enjoyable, more sweet than bitter, lo-fi celebration of a truly original character.” – Theatreview

“Ward is spot on, the staging superb… A seamless blending of subject, author, actor and setting… Quietly powerful” – GayNZ.com

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland CBD
21 Mar – 1 Apr 2017
6.30pm
$18 – $25 
Book Now

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Theatre , Solo ,


Charming, funny and melancholy

Review by Alistair Browning 22nd Mar 2017

“Television is the survival of the glibbest,” says Roy Ward early in the play; and he goes on to prove the worth of theatre as the antithesis of glib.  

Resident Alien, by Tim Fountain, is set in Quentin Crisp’s New York apartment in 1999. It consists of gleanings from Crisp’s writings; many from his later years, as he scratched a subsistence existence in NYC, a voluntary exile from his native England, in a city where he felt more at home. 

While discussing the piece with a colleague during the short interval, I declare I would be terrified of doing such a solo performance, that it is the collaborative aspect of theatre I love most. However, Mr Ward shows us is that collaboration is indeed what he does, as he finesses himself into a relationship with us, the audience.

He does so by subtly bringing us to him, by charming us into collaborating with him. He sits, alone on his bed, as we enter, and slowly begins to talk, at first almost to himself, then to us. His physicality is subtle and his engagement with us is undemanding and charming. 

It is an object lesson in solo performance and a welcome antidote to the kind of performer who would come on like a kleig-light and force your engagement. It is wonderful to see actors of maturity, experience and talent do their work; and a shame that we seldom get to see them do so.

The writing is likewise low-key, but gives us a good glimpse into a man who has lived all his life as an outsider, a homosexual, or perhaps, as he says, “a trans-something” in an era when that was illegal and life was conducted in an ambience of dark corners and small rooms.

By the time we see him, Crisp is famous but shunning celebrity, well aware of mortality, and eking out his days with a sprightly wit and meagre meals.

A charming, funny and melancholy 90 minutes.

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One-queen show brings wonderfully quotable Crisp to life

Review by Janet McAllister 22nd Aug 2013

The poetic cynic Quentin Crisp was wonderfully quotable – a latter-day Oscar Wilde, made of more stoic, less squashable stuff. 

This one-queen show is a loosely plotted grab-bag of the flaneur’s amusing “mail order guru” aphorisms: “Sex smudges your make-up,” he says, and “Books are for writing, not for reading.”

Roy Ward, as the Englishman in New York in 1999, purses lips, flutters hands, bats mascara’d eyelashes and keeps his knees together beautifully. [More]

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Inside-outsider’s guide to style

Review by Nik Smythe 21st Aug 2013

Having everyone packed tightly into the cozy confines of the Basement Studio creates a level of intimacy that serves the unfolding monologue well.  A slightly built, grey haired, old man sits on a rickety single bed in his dressing gown, watching television. 

Huffily switching off the daytime chat show he’s been watching, the elderly, eminent Quentin Crisp addresses us without irony or resentment, as though having fifty odd people in his modest, shabby New York bedsit is as normal as Oprah on the telly.  He’ll soon be dolling himself up for an arranged meeting with a couple of British chaps keen to interview him for their website, but for now he has time to idly regale us with opinions and anecdotes that may surprise, delight or shock as we see fit. 

Roy Ward bestows a softly intense, phlegmatically flamboyant portrait of a 90-year-old Quentin, presumably self-directed given the absence of a director credit.  How very Quentin Crisp!  Never one to be told what to do, by anybody. 

The details of Jessika Verryt’s cluttered, remarkably unspectacular set and the tastefully ostentatious costume choices of Hanna Randall also seem to be essentially dictated by the mores of the contrary old poof himself. 

As flagrantly mercurial as he is unapologetically frank, Ward’s Quentin conveys a kind of contempt for humanity in the same breath as expressing gratitude and almost wondrous delight toward the same species. Politics is at best a form of escapist amusement, at worst a soul-consuming waste of time.  Marriage is death.  Music is insufferable noise pollution.  It is to laugh [as Johnny Carson was wont to say]. 

Playwright Tim Fountain describes his subject as a “great, glittering contradiction”, and his script, presumably by-and-large an editing of Crisp’s own words, certainly strives to uphold this claim. We feel privileged to be regaled effortlessly, perhaps compulsively, with his world-famous anecdotal commentary, within his determinedly dusty, uncompromisingly personal space.

He can recall number of people telling him what he’s ‘supposed’ to think, but anyone who really knows him knows that only one thing really matters in this life, and that’s Style.  Without compromise.  Oscar Wilde says style is more important than sincerity; Quentin Crisp says they are the same thing. He doesn’t care whether we like him or not, so long as we’re impressed with his style. 

One wonders what the Englishman-in-New-York himself would have thought of Fountain’s treatment of him; having died the same month as it was first performed in 1999 I daresay he didn’t get the chance.  But however on-the-money the script and Ward’s engaging portrayal is and/or isn’t, this inside-outsider’s guide to style is a highly enjoyable, more sweet than bitter, lo-fi celebration of a truly original character.

[I reviewed a previous production of Resident Alien in 2008.  Further thoughts on Fountain’s play and the man himself can be read here.]

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Crisp

Review by Sharu Delilkan 21st Aug 2013

We enjoyed a lovely warm theatrical experience tonight – a charming, threadbare, Thatcher-ite, and acerbic view of the world from the portrayal of an old queen with no will or wit to be ordinary or dated.

It was a delight to see this multi-award winning one-hander being performed impeccably by Roy Ward in The Basement’s intimate upstairs studio space. Having previously seen Ward in the Auckland Theatre Company’s Crucible almost six years ago, witnessing his debut solo performance was nothing short of a treat. He basically embodied Quentin Crisp and all of the traits of the infamous 90-year-old ‘Professor of Style’. [More]

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