Edinburgh Fringe 2010
The Hardest man in the estate has just come out of prison and the closet, and has decided to go straight.
Winston Lennon is a hard man. He’d glass you if you spilt his pint. He’s been behaving antisocially for a long time and that’s because he is gay and didn’t want anyone in the backwater, that is a Yeovil housing estate, to know. His suppressed homosexuality mutated into aggression, that led to a life of crime and he found himself doing time. It was in prison that he found the easy access to expressing the love that dare not speak its name. Falling head over heels with Tommo, they arranged to share a cell and he finally found access to his true voice. It is Tommo, a lifer, who encourages him to go straight, tap into his creativity and help others struggling with accepting their sexuality.
Winston does this through poetry and song. His poems are bitter sweet, and at times darkly comic. He has a gift for capturing the frustration of trying to find his place in the gay world, a world that has its own rules. He finds it as restrictive as the heterosexual world. He spits venom at the camp stereotypes that dominate the media. The veins on his temples pulsate as he pours scorn on celebrities who hide in the closet. His poem of self hatred is profound, he delves into the deep shame he carries within, he call it a deformed foetus, this is a direct result of the homophobia he witnessed as a child of 1970’s Britain. He doesn’t want to endure sordid scrabbling in public toilets, avoiding a certain George Michael encounter! He wants to be able to give blood. He wants to be seen as a man, who is gay. He is not camp, he is not Dale Winton, nor is he interested in interior design.
This show has all the correct ingredients to be a winner, but desperately needs to be overhauled, directing the100% of the focus on Winston’s poems and humorous anecdotes . Alone on stage apart from his guitar and a book of his poems, he often seemed uncomfortable and unnecessarily deviated from his original theme. He performs two songs, where he accompanies himself on guitar, where he is out of his depth. There’s two reasons for that. These songs don’t belong in this show there topics were nothing really to do with his gay issues and he can’t really play the guitar. He’d be better using backing tracks, and a sound engineer who paid attention to his cues. Not his fault there. I wanted him to leave more space after his poems, they merited much more than he afforded them, and allow himself time for comedic delivery.
Winston is funny. His poems are deeply insightful. You don’t have to be gay to relate to his frustration with the stereotypes he has been shackled to. I think this is a show that everyone should see, then with a rousing battle cry we could all fight against the power that controls us, that is mass marketing. He doesn’t believe he’ll ever make it to the big time, his voice too controversial , and combats that by posting his poetry online for anyone who has been, is, and will be, going through acceptance of their true sexual identity. Good luck to him.