‘Passion on the Night Tube’ by Tony Tang is running until Sunday 2nd February as part of the Vault Festival. It isn’t in the main Vaults location though, but in the ‘Gift Horse’ which is a lovely space above the Horse and Stables pub by Lambeth North station.
This a semi-autobiographical solo show that mixes original songs and story-telling to bring to life the tale of Passion, a fabulous gay homeless man who spends Friday and Saturday nights on the Jubilee line. Passion tells us about fragile and stupid Jimmy Wong. Passion has a great deal of disdain for poor Jimmy, but then he had to kill him in order to exist. Although, is Jimmy really dead, or is he curled up in a ball of depression inside Passion?
Themes of mental health, acceptance, self-actualisation and vulnerability thread delicately throughout the piece. Tang gives an endearing and heart-breaking performance as Passion/Jimmy Wong. There is a sadness to the songs he has created, that cuts through even on a ukulele, which is generally such a cheerful instrument. ‘Shades of Grey’ in particular stood out for me, as it so eloquently captures and expresses feelings of depression and suicidal ideation. It is the perfect soundtrack for the story of a young gay man who finds himself homeless and alone. There is only so much a tiara can do to making sleeping on the Jubilee line glamorous.
Tang effectively portrays someone who finds himself with no-where to belong. His Chinese family won’t accept him because he is gay. The gay community don’t accept him because he is Asian and overweight, and therefore doesn’t fit the desirable SE Asian stereotype. Even the council won’t help him, because he is considered “intentionally homeless”. But this isn’t a bleak story. It is profoundly sad but it is also infused with a cheeky humour that lifts the overall tone and mood of the play. Tang comically brings to life a broad variety of different characters. Through Jimmy’s various encounters with these characters you can see why he needed to create Passion, the fabulous Queen of the night tube.
This isn’t a polished piece of theatre, but that only adds to the overall sense of vulnerability that pervades the story. I particularly like the way Tang chooses to end the piece. There is an ambiguity to it, that leaves the audience to decide if it is optimistic or not. Personally, I’m team hope.
Your last chance to see ‘Passion on the Night Tube’ is Sunday (2nd Feb) at 7pm.