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Plague Over England
In Autumn 1953, Sir John Gielgud, then at the height of his fame as an actor, was arrested in a Chelsea public lavatory. He pleaded guilty the following morning to the charge of persistently importuning men for immoral purposes. Poised to appear in the West End in a play he was directing and recently knighted, his conviction caused a national sensation - breaking the great taboo of public discussion of homosexuality. More than just a dramatisation of a scandalous event in one actor's life, this controversial new play shows how Gielgud's arrest played a small but distinct part in the battle to make homosexuality legal. It captures the spirit of Britain in the early 1950s when judges, politicians and the national press were describing homosexuality as a cancer, an epidemic and a threat to national life. It casts light on the political and social anxieties of the period and the witch-hunting of men who had sex with men. Framed by scenes of contemporary celebration at a civil partnership ceremony and ranging from close encounters in Hyde Park to a Gentlemen
Archive :: production:T02002848113, play:S029913626, venue:V391
Running time 2hours 30mins
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