Thursday, April 25

Jarman – King’s Head Theatre

A mighty spirit is about to reawaken. Yours!

Over 80 intense minutes, Writer/Performer/Producer Mark Farrelly embarks on a journey to map out the life of Queer filmmaker, painter, gay rights activist, writer, and gardener Derek Jarman, from troubled childhood, through career achievements, illness, and death in his highly acclaimed solo play ‘Jarman’, which is being shown as a unique double bill as part of the Camden Fringe Festival.

Jarman was an icon in the gay community, a trail blazer politically, socially, and creatively. One of the first public figures to announce his HIV status to the world, he called for us all to “be astonishing” and that is exactly what Farrelly achieves with this highly thought provoking and beautifully written piece of theatre. Farrelly’s writing is incredibly compassionate towards Jarman. He presents the life of this colourful character with grace, tenacity, and eloquence, but also uses a humour that endears the audience to both the performer and the character.

Farrelly maintains a vibrant and daring energy throughout the play which brings the script to life in a kaleidoscope of poetry and linguistics that draws in and captivates the audience. There is an emotional connection between Farrelly, Jarman and the audience that is tangible, and whilst many won’t be familiar with the intricacies of Jarman ‘s personality and character (he died in 1994), the production seems to capture the representation of a man that had outrageous flaws, but whom was clearly a symbol of courage and great spirit.

Farrelly, like Jarman is a remarkable trailblazer, an edgy and physical performer who commands the theatrical space in which he operates, and in celebrating the life of such an icon, he shows us there is hope in the world if we are able to find love and laughter. Technically the production is very simple, but there are some sophisticated sound (Tom Lishman) and lighting (Sarah-Louise Young and Mark Farrelly) elements that complement, but certainly don’t distract from the dialogue and the performance.

A highly recommended, incredibly accomplished production!

Jarman continues at the Kings Head Theatre as part of the Boys! Boys! Boys! Season until 26th August. Tickets are available from

Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin

Reviewed: 3rd August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★