“Radical” LGBT+ play is thrusting into Edinburgh’s Lyceum this week

Love Song to Lavender Menace is a “radical, time-travelling, disco dancing, LGBT+ love story” that brings the legend of Edinburgh’s first queer bookshop to life.

Edinburgh playwright James Ley, founder of Village Pub Theatre, decided the story of The Lavender Menace is one that needed to be told.

From strange beginnings in the cloakroom of a nightclub, Lavender Menace became a full-blown queer bookshop, and now its story is on stage in Edinburgh from the 12th until the 21st of October.

The Lavender Menace opened as a bookshop on Forth Street in 1982, trading in gay, lesbian and feminist books and quickly became a hub of LGBT culture. Founder Bob Orr teamed up with business partner Sigrid Nielson to open Lavender Menace, which served the community for over a decade. In the age of Thatcher, the store brought people together and fought for acceptance with words.

Staged at The Lyceum theatre, the play stars Matthew McVarish and Pierce Reid as shop assistants on the eve of the shop’s fifth birthday, as they look back on the difference it has made.

The space was one of the first alternatives to the typical pub and club gay scene. Mr Ley spoke to many former customers, who said it took them a few attempts to step over the threshold. Deciding to finally go in was a big step for many people three decades ago. According to one Twitter user, the shop had a sign that warned heterosexuals of a “50p surcharge.”

 

The Lyceum Theatre is the first venue the show will appear at on its UK tour.

A successful Kickstarter campaign raised over £4000 to nudge the play into a full tour, and it begins its UK tour here in Edinburgh. This isn’t shocking though, with people from all over Scotland flocking to the quirky outlet throughout the 80s.

The show is selling out fast, but you can still grab tickets for the showings from Friday the 13th until the 21st here.

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