Other people's lives are always fascinating. And Sebastian Horsley's was certainly more fascinating than most. The self professed dandy and sometime artist and writer is the subject of the Tim Fountain play Dandy in the Underworld based on his own book of the same name.
Played wonderfully by Milo Twomey this one-hander is not so much a window into a day in the life of the effete and charming Horsley more him partially drawing back the curtain. He liked the attention, obviously. It's not a shy and retiring person who walks around Soho in a red velvet suit with matching top hat, claims to have slept with more than 1,000 prostitutes and talks of drug abuse almost lovingly.
Horsley is one of those characters that the rational part of your brain wants to abhor - he is essentially rich and bored seemingly squandering the privileged life he was born into but he has a winning charm. His often controversial world view and musings are entertaining and amusing.
Naturally he doesn't paint his parents in a very good light but he has a neediness evident in his inability to easily cope with rejection that shows glimpses of a different person beneath the red velvet veneer.
Sebastian Horsley died last month from a drugs overdose. You don't learn a massive amount from the play, the obituaries are more enlightening, but it is an amusing and entertaining piece of theatre.
If you want to see it you'd better hurry, tomorrow is closing night.
The professional reviews:
Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph gave it four stars: "This drama-turned-theatrical-epitaph insists that Sebastian Horsley aspired to be more than celebrity’s whore."
Alieks Sierz in The Stage concludes: "Milo Twomey is boyish, cheery, and occasionally campy. Always engaging, never dull, he solicits and responds to audience reactions. Whatever Horsley is like in real life, on stage his incarnation rocks."
Picture of Milo Twomey as Sebastian Horsley by Geraint Lewis
Forgot to add this when I wrote the original post but as promised in my last post here is the 6 degrees of separation connection between this play and Ben Whishaw. Quite an easy one and possibly a cheat but it'll do for the time being. Ben Whishaw starred in the Philip Ridley play, Leaves of Glass, at the Soho Theatre which I saw and famously got maimed. I'd also seen him at the Soho theatre a week or so before when I was going to see some comedy. He was standing on the stairs chatting to someone. Will that do?