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Thalidomide! A Musical

Friday night saw me pottering off with friends to to the theatre, but with an abnormal amount of dread. The show, on at the Battersea Arts Centre, had the worrying title "Thalidomide! A Musical". And the flyer I had, from the overly-talented Nat Steed, went as follows.

A PC free musical with a short armed punch. Set against the 60's drug scandal this is a love story with show tunes, love songs, dangerous drugs and monster baby tangos..... These scratch performances incorporate flash animation, projection and Fraser's trademark intelligence, humour and passion.

"Yes I'll love him without any qualms, he'll my guy and I'll be his arms"

As they say in Spain, blinking flip.

The show was an early viewing - they had only had two weeks perparation, and we the audience were there to give feedback - but it was great! Very funny and very touching. Matt Fraser (the man in the picture and whose mother took the drug) and Anna Winslet (sister of Kate) were the only actors, taking on a number of different roles, and both were high on charisma and talent.

After the show, there were some drinks to celebrate the (at long last) introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act, and chatting to Monsieur Fraser, two things really struck home.

First was that the company that later developed thalidomide was initially a West German company. When the scandal broke, rather than destroy the stock of pills, this wundercorporation sold them to East Germany -the idea being that since they were behind the wall it didn't much matter. For me, that is surely up there in the shit idea of the century stakes, and should colour the decision over whether to reintroduce it as a drug to treat leprosy.

The second thing to strike me was this. I'd thought that thalidomide was a scandal. And it was, but it also is. Lack of current newsworthiness doesn't mean current lack of having to cope.

Anyway, if you're in London and fancy something a little different, do go to the BAC and see it. You might dread going, but it's upbeat, fun, and definitely makes you think.

Battersea Arts Centre's home page is here

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