Watch it here:

There always remained a sensation of wanting to savour more of 'The Incredible Orlando' after every show where he appeared. Although he was ever brilliantly cast and utilised as a performer by the likes of Lindsay Kemp, Derek Jarman or Jonathan Miller, one kept wondering about Orlando (Jack Birkett) appearing in a solo show or as the lead in some play that would do fuller justice to his unusual talent.   

Going all the way back to 1982: I go to see "Blade Runner" at the Odeon Edgware Road. Long walk towards Hyde Park after, with my mind full of inspiration. I started brewing the plot of a play for Jack; a two-hander sci-fi romp starring a corrupt and evil Army General faced to a budding, suffering music composer, the play set in a massive bunker after the world was destroyed. The two character's dens would be seen, alternating their tense, funny, rumbustious dialogue with a set of Music-Hall songs for the General to perform accompanied by the composer at the piano, being the Music-Hall repertoire and its legendary divas a genre that Orlando loved and felt so passionately attune to.   

So the play got written and a few years later, after each had moved from London to Barcelona, Jack (by then quite visually impaired) managed to learn the whole of Act I by heart, including the dialogue and every song's lyrics. It was uncanny. We spend so many happy hours rehearsing at my flat in Plaza Real and when Celestino Coronado came to visit, he had a sudden initiative to film the first act with the aid of his friend Carlos Ameller, who worked on the audiovisual department at the Miró Foundation, the wonderful, dynamic space in Montjuic, Barcelona, where Joan Miró’s work can be seen alongside a wide variety of events. The film set was perfect: the building's cellar, where the audiovisual department operated. It had already the ideal look of a bunker and it was spacious enough to move the camera and lighting gear about.  

Alas, only the first act got filmed. We never got to perform the whole play in any theatre, although we had enthusiastic talks with Pierre Audi at the newly opened Almeida Theatre. But the Lindsay Kemp Company, where we worked at the time, had a very busy world touring schedule and we soon had to postpone our project forever, having been set back by our touring and performing career.


So this film of the first act remains as a precious rarity which renders and preserves The Incredible Orlando's singular talent and élan as a great cabaret artist and stage/screen performer. The play was very slightly adapted for the film, retaining it's stage origins unashamedly, albeit also adding some ingenious visual wizardry, all realised with utmost economy of means but with a wealth of imagination and dedication.


In a nutshell we could describe the "show" thus:

Conceived as a future-fantasy Music Hall operetta, "Good-bye G.O.D." tells the story of General Orson Davis, (known as G.O.D.), one of the heads of the Confederated Armies of the Northern Hemisphere, who have concocted a mass destruction of the world. Sheltered in a bunker in the North Pole, he and his henchmen have saved a chosen team of scientists impelled to work on the vessel that will enable them to eventually evacuate the planet. But he has a secret passion which he will indulge once he encounters Adam, one of his scientists.!.png!.png