Cruising Into Another Life

Staff Reporter (18 March, 2021)

Michael puts on his favourite jacket, heads for Soho, and embarks on a long night of farewells


Cruise is the true story of what should have been Michael Spencer’s last night on Earth.

When Michael is diagnosed with HIV in 1984, he’s told he’ll have four years to live – at most. So, with the clock ticking, he and his partner, Dave, decide to sell their house, flog the car, spend everything they have and party like it’s the last days of Rome. When Dave dies two years later, Michael doubles down on his hedonistic ways, spending what little he has left and drowning himself in drink and drugs.

On the last night of his four-year countdown – the 29th February, 1988 – Michael decides to go out with a bang. He puts on his favourite jacket, heads for Soho, and embarks on a long night of farewells. He says his goodbyes to friends, enemies and strangers; old haunts, dive bars, cafes, clubs and pubs; his brothers, sisters, allies and exes. He dances, sings, and says yes to everything and everyone. Then, with all his affairs taken care of, Michael promptly… survives. Michael got lucky, and he goes on to live to a ripe old age. Michael has been given the gift of life; but what kind of life can he now live?

Written and performed by Jack Holden (War Horse, West End; Ink, Almeida Theatre), Cruise is an urgent, moving and inspirational new play with live music and spoken word. Bringing to life 1980’s Soho, this one-man show is a celebration of queer culture; a kaleidoscopic musical and spoken word tribute to the veterans of the AIDs crisis. Directed by Bronagh Lagan and filmed at Shoreditch Town Hall, it features an uplifting 80s electronic soundtrack performed live by John Elliott.

This new filmed play will be available to watch from 15 April – 25 April at Stream. Theatre with tickets at £12.

Holden said: “Cruise is based on a true story I was told while I was a volunteer for Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ Listening Service. I was in a weird, unstable, self-destructive part of my early 20s. This story, among others, taught me my gay history, put my life into perspective, and helped me to grow up. The names and a lot of the events have been changed, and a hell of a lot of material has been imagined. This play is a tribute to a generation decimated by HIV and AIDs, a memorial for the old days of Soho, a celebration of electronic music, and an excuse to dance.”

“It is an absolute honour to have the opportunity to present this play, not only on a West End stage but as we are coming out of what has been one of the most difficult and challenging years for all. It is a brave and innovative show which brings us into a world and part of history which we may not be so familiar with. A story which we should hear about; one of survival, loss, rebuilding a life, and looking forward to the future. All on top of the most uplifting and brilliant soundtrack. After receiving the script during lockdown, I couldn’t have imagined that we’d be presenting it as our first West End play the following year. I am so looking forward to sharing it with a live audience.”

Lambert Jackson said: “For our first West End run, we are so excited to be bringing this innovative, new, and important piece of theatre to reopen the Duchess Theatre. From the moment we read the script, we knew we had to be involved. This has been a very uncertain time for theatre in the UK, and it feels right to be producing a brilliant new play by a British writer to bring important, queer British stories to audiences at this time.”

Available to book and watch online here: 

Dates: 15 – 25 April 2021
Tickets:  £12 plus booking fee

Duchess Theatre, 3-5 Catherine Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5LA. Dates: 18 May – 13 June

Times: Tuesday – Friday 8pm; Saturdays at 3pm & 8pm; Sundays at 3pm & 6pm. Admission: £10 – £65. Phone: 0330 333 4810



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Jack Holden