Digital review: Cruise / Navegar

Presented as a world premiere (billed under the title Navegar) at Brazil’s Festival ECRÃ and running 55 mins, Dr Lee Campbell’s latest show streamed live on Zoom on 8 July.

Cruise explores some of the complexities involved in gay male cruising by juxtaposition of the politics, practice, and passion of the scene.

Subcultures, body fetishism and positivity, the freedom of anonymous encounters, a cheeky comic interlude, first love, and risk-free risk are all covered.

Screencap from Cruise

As with Campbell’s Peer (performed on Zoom a year ago) show, Cruise uses repetitive multi-layered media and sound together with an immersive, disorientating and structured collage.

With the torso as the canvas for images, collage, words, and video, all assembled live, Campbell’s collection of poems both recall and celebrate the gay identity and community.

At twice the length of Peer, Cruise needs to work much harder to keep the attention, and with constant changes in pace and the use of a range of media, it largely manages to do that.

The politics of personal identity are diligently explored, alongside the first crush, the realisation of how the male body is objectified and gazed upon, and the fun of the unknown.

Screencap from Cruise

Utilising a green screen effect, which Campbell discovered “by happy accident” during the pandemic lockdown, we see flickers of images, a build-up of space and place.

Cruise is honest yet hopeful, a celebration of men who search for other men and the culture which surrounds finding a transient or forever mate, the feeling of looking right, fitting in, and finding happiness.

As an experimental digital show fusing film, theatre, and poetry performance, Cruise is intriguing, provoking, and inclusive. The overload of sound and images may be triggering and problematic to some, but I found it powerful and effective.

For more on Lee Campbell’s work, go here.