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Closer To Heaven - Turbine Theatre Review

Reviewed by Lauren Russell

Tickets were gifted in return for an honest review

Closer to Heaven’, a musical by Johnathan Harvey and Pet Shop Boys at The Turbine Theatreperfect choice of venue. Brilliantly designed by David Shields for this nightclub setting, we had a strikingly layered brick back wall and TV screens for juicy glimpses at backstage drama, neon lights and a UV wash by Jack Wier; all transporting us into Vic’s nightclub. Yet, the all-encompassing atmosphere wasn’t quite enough to drive this cringey text into a success. 

Photo by Mark Senior.

The show, directed by Simon Hardwick, is a rollercoaster of sex, drugs, and queerness – certainly sounds close to heaven for someHoweverit was much closer to a chaotic night out where everyone’s off their face and simultaneously on someone else’s – and drama is rife. With the diamond in the rough being Frances Ruffelle’s captivating rendition of the club’s ringmaster Billie Trix – her energy is limitless, and her stunning performance was effortless. It was worth going just to see Ruffelle’s unwavering commitment.

With a rushed storyline from the book musical the actors don’t have the chance to give their characters depth, however their vocal abilities really lit up the room, especially Shell, played by powerhouse Courtney Bowman. After a strange snapshot reunion between Shell her father Vic, she falls in love with club dancer ‘Straight Dave’, played by an unnerving Glenn Adamson. Their shaky relationship lacked chemistry, and Adamson’s performance brought the belting vocals, campness, and eye candy, but did not bring the vulnerability needed for such an intimate stage

The soundtrack blasted some catchy and blood pumping tunes, such as opening number ‘My Night’ where Billie Trix and dancing babes, Beth Curncock, Jaime Tait, and Cian Hughes, sexily transports us into a club where ‘nothing is taboo’. Christopher Tendai’s choreography is outstanding and seamless from start to finish. The gloriously camp and comical performance from David Muscat as a slimy (and often bare) Bob Saunders is to be savoured, particularly in his solo ‘Call Me Old Fashioned’.

Photo by Mark Senior

 absolute highlight of the show, drug dealer ‘Mile End Lee’ played by a promising Connor Carson, underneath the strong East End persona is a lad seeking love and connection. When Billie Trix tries to draw a half-dressed Lee but can’t and blames the grass Lee sold her, Carson’s mesmerising voice matched with Ruffelle’s iconic delivery creates a spellbinding heart to heart scene.

If you want to forget about the outside world and be immersed in a taboo filled nightclub of the weird and wonderful with a large side order of queer then take a step Closer to Heaven and book a ticket.


Closer To Heaven runs at The Turbine Theatre in London until Sunday 30th June. Tickets are available from

Photo by Mark Senior

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