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Cruise: Jack Holden’s 1980s-set Aids drama to return to the West End this summer

Attitude called Cruise "funny, sobering, and heart-warming" when it played at the Duchess Theatre last year.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pamela Raith Photography

The 1980s-set Aids drama, Cruise, is set to return to the West End for a limited run this summer with writer and actor, Jack Holden returning to lead the production.

One of the first productions to play when the West End reopened last year after the pandemic, the play was a smash success winning widespread acclaim and garnering an Olivier award nomination.

Written and performed almost exclusively by Jack Holden, the play tells the real-life story of one man’s reckoning with HIV after being diagnosed in 1984.

“Let’s do it again!”

Writing on Twitter on Wednesday (25 May) morning Jack (Ten Per Cent) said: “That was fun. Let’s do it again!” He added: “And this time it’s bigger, better, louder and prouder! See you in Soho. Again”

The play is based on a true story Jack was told whilst volunteering for Switchboard, the LGBTQ charity. It sees Jack take on multiple characters in a one-man marathon of a performance as he retells the story of a man ‘Michael Spencer’, who is diagnosed with HIV in 1984 and told he has four years to live. 

As the clock ticks in the background, Michael goes on a hedonistic quest to enjoy life while he can as he counts down to 29 February 1988. As his supposed last night on earth arrives, Michael doubles down on his partying ways and says his goodbyes as he makes his way through London’s Soho. 

However, he survives… 

Directed by Bronagh Lagan, Cruise celebrates queer culture and acts as a powerful tribute to a generation decimated by HIV and Aids. 1980s Soho is brought vividly to life in this kaleidoscopic musical thanks to an uplifting 80s electronic soundtrack performed live by John Patrick Elliott. 

The play was nominated for Best New Play at the 2022 Olivier awards. In its review last year Attitude called it, “funny, sobering, and heart-warming,” and Holden “charming, charismatic, funny, and devastating”. 

Cruise is set play at the Apollo Theatre from 13 August to 4 September. Tickets are available here

The Attitude May/June issue is out now.