Jarman Review

Tanya Moiseiwitsch Playhouse Theatre, Sheffield – 3rd November 2022

Reviewed by Sophie Dodworth


Following a UK tour, Mark Farrellys one-man show (written and performed by Farrelly), ‘Jarman’ arrives in Sheffield for one night only. We are taken on a journey through Derek Jarmans’ life, the iconic painter, activist, writer and film-maker. We have a transparent look at the highs and lows of Jarmans’ life, ending with his tragic death from an AIDS related illness. From the start Derek talks directly to the audience. There is lots of use of the seating areas and audience participation involved, which can be awkward for some but engaging for others.

Some of the play moved really fast and felt slightly disjointed at times, leaving me wondering what was going on. The writing and the wonderful staging is sometimes complex, which you do have to be on the ball with.

Mark Farrelly has made this production what it is with his ferocious acting talent, he is full of energy, charisma and skills that many actors would be envious of. He can completely command, entertain and charm a full theatre of people, no matter what the size (one would imagine) I am not sure I have ever seen an actor better than him and can not compliment him enough.

There wasn’t really a set as such, an empty stage in its entirety with just a chair which Derek brought on with his entrance. Credit due to Farrelly and the team for the simple minimal props they had and using them innovatively…a roll of brown paper that was used in so many different ways – scrunched up in anger and thrown into the audience, or when the lights were out – screwed up, rustled by Dereks’ hands and a red torch light shone on to emulate a fire, which was so effective, to name a few.

The sound was extremely well thought out and strongly utilised in just the right places. It created joyous moments with the audience when singing along to A Little Respect by Erasure, it was atmospheric!

A real piece of fabulous theatre, with beautiful moments. It leaves you feeling reflective with some of themes of making sure you are giving every minute your everything.