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from Portrait of Jason by Shirley Clarke

VAULT Festival | London, UK | July 2020


JASON is a verbatim, recorded delivery reimagining of Shirley Clarke’s groundbreaking 1967 Queer cult classic documentary Portrait of Jason, a seminal film pieced together from 12 hours of footage taken over a single night in Clarke's apartment.

This impressive piece takes the audience live onto the hostile set of Jason’s theatrical re-telling of his life as a black, queer hustler, nightclub performer, and so-called prostitute. What seems like an extremely difficult task in re-creating such a complex character and replicating archived footage is executed effortlessly by this talented company...The way in which the verbatim script has been pieced together is seamless.


As Marcus Amaglo (Jason) offers an impeccable performance, the audience can see the archived footage of the real Jason Holliday from 1966 and a live recording of Amaglo on stage playing out on four small screens in front of them. As Amaglo’s monologues go on we quickly forget which one is the real Jason, which one is live on stage, and which one we are watching through screens. Amaglo’s ability to imitate Jason is mesmerising to watch - particularly as we have the original footage being played out in front us. His ear piece, to keep him in the voice of the real Jason, is not hidden - but even then the audience is in awe of how this actor can become a man as complicated as Jason. We are told by Clarke from the beginning that it is hard to tell if much of what Jason says is performance or truth. But there certainly is complete truth in Amaglo’s embodiment of his character.

It is such convincing and committed performances from Amaglo and the ensemble that convinces the audience that they are live on set, in Hotel Chelsea’s penthouse apartment, in 1966. This directorial choice and use of space is something that high-calibre directors would hope to emulate."


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