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Best of Gay D.C. 2017: NIGHTLIFE

Winners from the Washington Blade’s annual poll

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Gay D.C., gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo of Dylan Knight by David Claypool; Washington Blade photo of Distrkt C by Ben Keller; Washington Blade photos of DJ Tezrah and Ophelia Heart by Tom Hausman)

Best Dance Party

Distrkt C

D.C. Eagle

Second Saturday of the month

D.C. Eagle

3701 Benning Rd., N.E.

distrktc.com

Editor’s choice: Gay Bash, Trade

Distrkt C, gay news, Washington Blade

Distrkt C (Washington Blade photo by Ben Keller)

Best Bartender

Dusty Martinez, Trade

Also won in 2014; last year’s runner-up.

1410 14th St., N.W.

tradebardc.com

Runner-up: Tommy Honeycutt, Nellie’s

Dusty Martinez (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Burlesque Dancer

Ophelia Hart

Runner-up: GiGi Holliday

Ophelia Zayna Hartis a belly dancer and drag and burlesque performer hailing from Washington.

I am thunder thighs, sinful curves, and fiery spirit,” she says.

She made her debut at Washington’s 2015 Burlypicks, where she won the title of Master of Lip-sync, and she has been shimmying and shaking across the East Coast since then. Always true to her Arab roots, Hart celebrates the fusion of classic and neo-burlesque and her homeland’s cultural riches.

Hart, who is known for dancing with grace, seducing with elegance and jiggling with abandon, has some advice for performers working on a new act: “When you’re crafting a number — brainstorming a concept, working on your choreography, creating a costume and rehearsing your act — ask yourself, what story am I telling, and is it mine to tell?” (BTC)

facebook.com/opheliahartburlesque

Ophelia Hart (Washington Blade photo by Tom Hausman)

Best Avion Tequila Margarita

Winner: Lauriol Plaza

1835 18th St., N.W.

lauriolplaza.com

Editor’s pick: Rito Loco

Avion Tequila Margarita at Lauriol Plaza (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best DJ

DJ Tezrah

Runner-up: The Barber Streisand

Tezrah has a delightfully eclectic background and an amazing sound.

A native of Fairfax, Va., Tezrah says she “learned to play classical piano at age 5, which laid the foundation for future investigation into computer music programs.” She graduated with a pre-medical degree in Neuroscience from William & Mary, attended the Harvard School of Design Summer Program, and was accepted into the Graduate Architecture Program at Catholic University.

She also played semi-pro soccer.

Then, she says, “on a whim I tried turning my musical hobby into a profession.”

Now Tezrah reigns in her fourth year of DJing in the D.C. area, specializing in Top 40, electronic dance music, hip hop and other genres. Formerly known as DJ Deedub, she is hailed as one of D.C.’s and the LGBT community’s brightest stars. Her sound is eclectic, combining the newest music seamlessly with older classic songs. Winner of the DJ Battle for Her HRC for 2014 and 2015, headliner at the 9:30 Club, and headliner for a crowd of about 5,000 at Hampton Roads Pride 2016, she has garnered a solid local following. (BTC)

tezrah.com

soundcloud.com/tezrah

DJ Tezrah (Washington Blade photo by Tom Hausman)

Best Drag King

Roman Noodle

Runner-up: Avery Austin

Roman Noodle, real name Shay, first started doing drag in May 2016 as a way to escape being herself.

“Roman was created so I could kind of be myself without people judging me for being myself. Because they think I’m just being Roman. It turned into an avenue where in doing drag it made me completely myself,” Noodle, a dog walker by day, says.

The D.C. native kicked off her drag career as a choir boy for Pretty Boi Drag’s Sunday Service shows. At first she was unsure how to craft her drag persona and experimented with different genres and concepts. Eventually she settled on Roman, “a basic dude, no gimmicks.”

Even though Noodle has performed for other groups including D.C. Gurly Show and Girl Power in Baltimore, she still considers Pretty Boi Drag her family.

She also credits the art of drag with giving her, and countless others, a safe space to be who they are.

“I love that it gives everyone a place to be themselves, to feel safe, to express themselves creatively. Whether they are male-bodied or female-bodied, they’re able to present themselves the way they want without any issues or questions,” Noodle says. (PF)

Roman Noodle (Washington Blade photo by Chris Jennings)

Best Drag Queen

Sasha Adams

Runner-up: Tatianna

Drag performer Sasha Adams, whose real name is Richard Christmas, says “I’m the Clydesdale of D.C. drag. I’m plus sized but I dance. You’ll get the kicks, the splits, the hair flips and all that. Clydesdale are big, graceful, beautiful but most importantly, they’re work horses.”

Though he maintains a day job as a contractor with the federal government, Christmas performs as Sasha four or five times a week. His drag career is two-pronged: performing at clubs and brunches and competing in national drag pageants. “Sasha isn’t modeled after anyone in particular,” Christmas says. “I lip sync R&B and hip-hop. I like old school Janet, Missy and Mariah. And Donna Summer if the venue calls for it. I do contemporary top 20 artists too.”

Christmas grew up in a small-town outside of Charlottesville, Va. He did choir in high school but not a lot of acting. He graduated from James Madison University where he majored in finance and minored in dance and music.  The Eagle Scout’s foray into drag began when he won amateur drag night at Freddie’s Beach Bar in 2010. Gigs and bookings followed.

When the wig is off and he’s untucked, Christmas can be found at home in Columbia Heights lying on the couch watching “Law & Order.” As a performer, he finds relationships difficult. He’s single but likes a guy who has his shit together.

Town Danceboutique

2009 8th St., N.W.

towndc.com

Sasha Adams (Photo by Bobby DeCanio)

Best Drag Show

Ladies of Town

Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. Sixth win in this category!

Town Danceboutique

2009 8th St., N.W.

towndc.com

A perennial favorite in this category!

Editor’s choice: Pretty Boi Drag

Town Danceboutique, gay news, Washington Blade

Ba’Naka and Tatianna perform at Town. (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Best Singer or Band

Wicked Jezabel

Also won this award in 2013!

Runner-up: Homo Superior

Wicked Jezebel at NOVA Pride (Photo by Bobbie English)

Best Transgender Performer

Phoenix King

Runner-up: Salvadora Dali

Performer Phoenix King, real name Benny Rodriguez, identifies as trans.

“I’ve been a drag king in Washington for about four years,” he says. “Entertaining has translated into different kinds of performance art including burlesque. Being trans is a big part of my life but it’s not my entire performance persona.”

Rodriquez got into drag performance in 2013 while working at the now-defunct lesbian hot spot Phase 1 in Dupont Circle. “They had a drag show with drag kings and queens and I asked if I could perform,” he says. “The experience was totally exhilarating and ties into my trans identity. To see myself as a masculine-presenting person for the first time was shocking and exciting to me.”

By all accounts, Rodriguez’s drag debut was a resounding success. Over the last two years, he’s attracted an enthusiastic following and for the last two year he has been performing mostly at Bier Baron Tavern in D.C.  He’s also performed in clubs and burlesque.

“Initially I perceived drag as a hobby but increasingly I’ve come to see it as a money-making venture,” says Rodriguez, 26. “Over this year, I’ve become increasingly focused on where I perform and for whom I perform. This experience has opened doors all over town. There’s no telling where it might lead.” (PF)

 

Phoenix King (Photo courtesy of Benicio Rodriguez)

Best Gay-Friendly Straight Bar

Dacha Beer Garden

Third consecutive win in this category!

1600 7th St., N.W.

202-524-8790

dachadc.com

Editor’s choice: DC9

Dacha Beer Garden (Photo by Ted Eytan; courtesy Flickr)

Best Go-Go Dancer/Stripper

Dylan Knight

Runner-up: Eddie Danger

Dylan Knight started gyrating lasciviously at Town about 2010 after seeing other go-go dancers there. This is his second consecutive win in this category.

He’s a regular at Town and performs there and elsewhere, never taking himself too seriously.

“I just try to be entertaining and cute,” the 26-year-old D.C. resident, who also does gay porn, says. (JD)

Dylan Knight (Photo by David Claypool; courtesy Knight)

Best Absolut Happy Hour

Number Nine

Two-for-one happy hour is 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 2-9 p.m. on weekends. This is Nine’s fifth Best Of award.

1435 P St., N.W.

numberninedc.com

Editor’s choice: Trade

Number 9 happy hour (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Hottest Bar Staff

The Dirty Goose

913 U St., N.W.

thedirtygoosedc.com

Editor’s choice: Trade

The Dirty Goose bar staff (Washington Blade photo by Tom Hausman)

Best Live Music

9:30 Club

A perennial favorite in this category!

815 V St., N.W.

930.com

Editor’s Choice: Wolf Trap

Troye Sivan performs at the 9:30 Club (Photo by Katherine Gaines)

Best Neighborhood Bar

Trade

1410 14th St., N.W.

tradebardc.com

Editor’s choice: JR.’s

Trade (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Best Outside-the-District Bar

Freddie’s Beach Bar

This is Freddie’s 20th Best Of win, a Washington Blade record. Freddie’s has won this award every year since 2002 in addition to several others.

555 S. 23rd St.

Arlington, Va.

freddiesbeachbar.com

Editor’s choice: Baltimore Eagle

Freddie’s Beach Bar (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Best Outdoor Drinking

Town Patio

Third consecutive win in this category!

Town Danceboutique

2009 8th St., N.W.

towndc.com

Editor’s choice: Dascha Beer Garden

Town Patio (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Place for Guys Night Out

Crew Club

1321 14th St., N.W.

crewclub.net

Editor’s choice: DC Bear Crue: Bear Happy Hour

Crew Club (Washington Blade photo by Pete Exis)

Best Place for Girls Night Out

Pretty Boi Drag

Editor’s choice: BARE by LURe

Take a break from the numerous drag queen brunches and parties to have fun with the boys.

Pretty Boi Drag is D.C.’s newest drag king troupe that features daytime and nighttime parties and events throughout the city. The troupe started in 2016 and since then has expanded into a staple in the D.C. drag community.

Perhaps their best known event is Pretty Boi Sunday Service at the Bier Baron Tavern (1523 22nd St., N.W.). Described as “a parody drag church for the non-religious,” the kings entertain with heavy influences of hip-hop and R&B. The event is hosted by the troupe’s co-producer, Pretty Rik E.

Other events include happy hours, brunches and variety shows at different locales around town. Their performers are a diverse mix of characters and acts including Best Drag King winner, Roman Noodle.

“Pretty Boi Drag creates a fun, safe and unique atmosphere for queer women to see drag kings like they’ve never seen them before,” their website states. “Our events are drag show meets dance party meets a queer woman’s version of ‘Magic Mike.’ Our audience isn’t there to just watch what happens on stage, they also get to be a part of the show.” (MC)

prettyboidrag.com

(Washington Blade photo by Chris Jennings)

Best Rehoboth Bar

Purple Parrot

134 Rehoboth Ave.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

ppgrill.com

Editor’s choice: Blue Moon

Purple Parrot (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Best Rehoboth Bartender

Holly Lane, Cafe Azafran

18 Baltimore Ave.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

cafeazafran.com

Runner-up: Jamie Romano, Purple Parrot

Holly Lane (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Best Rooftop

Uproar Lounge & Restaurant

Second consecutive win in this category!

639 Florida Ave., N.W.

Editor’s choice: Nellie’s

UpRoar Lounge (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

To see winners in other categories in the Washington Blade’s Best of Gay D.C. 2017 Awards, click here.

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Theater

New musical highlights Frederick Douglass but falls short

‘American Prophet’ needs more energy and spark

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Cornelius Smith Jr. (Frederick Douglass) and the cast of ‘American Prophet.’ (Photo by Margot Schulman)

‘American Prophet’
Through Aug. 28
Arena Stage
1101 Sixth St., S.W.
$66 – $115
Arenastage.org

Frederick Douglass’s brilliance didn’t blossom in a walled garden. 

Born into slavery around 1819, the renowned abolitionist worked the fields of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and docks of Baltimore before escaping to freedom in New York where he emerged as a famed orator, writer, and publisher. Along his exceptional journey, Douglass was supported by family, and like-minded folks including prominent progressives of different temperaments whom he both learned from and heavily influenced. 

In “American Prophet,” a biographical musical now premiering at Arena Stage, co-creators Marcus Hummon and Charles Randolph-Wright have intentionally relied heavily on Douglass’s written words with mixed results. In both dialogue and lyrics, the great orator’s fearless opines are present, sometimes they spark and crackle, soar and inspire, and other times they’re not enough. 

The action takes place on a tiered set resembling the choir space in an unadorned church. It’s here the players congregate to tell Douglass’s remarkable story that doubles as a compelling slice of mid-19th century American history. 

Standing centerstage is Douglass with a serious but handsome countenance, that distinctive side part, dark coat and vest. The actor (Curtis Wiley stepping in for Cornelius Smith, Jr., on a recent Sunday evening) is every inch the activist whose photograph is copiously featured in history books.

(Having slipped into Arena’s Kreeger Theatre just as the lights went down, I didn’t realize until intermission when a strip of paper announcing the substitution fell out of my program, that I was watching an understudy. Wiley didn’t miss a line or lyric. His voice is gorgeous.)

Staged by Randolph-Wright, the musical unfolds chronologically as a straightforwardly told story. Douglass is born Frederick Bailey, purportedly the son of a slave and her white owner. After his mother’s death, he’s nurtured by a loving maternal grandmother (Cicily Daniels) and taught to read by his owner’s sympathetic wife who recognizes the boy’s quick mind and ability. Soon after he’s sent off to Baltimore to serve as companion to a family relation about his same age. When that doesn’t work, he’s sent back to the farm where an overseer unsuccessfully tries to break young Bailey’s spirit.

Back in Baltimore, still a slave, he works long hours as a stevedore with his pay going to his owners. Exuberant and inexhaustible, he finds time to take in some pleasures of the city. At a dance he meets his wife, a free black woman named Anna Murray (Kristolyn Lloyd). Together, they successfully flee to the free North. Once there – after changing his name to Douglass from a narrative poem by Sir Walter Scott, “The Lady of the Lake,” – his career booms. 

Grammy-winning composer Hummon’s score, a mix of gospel and country sounds, moves the story lucidly along while leaving room for some strong stand-alone melodies, particularly Kristolyn Lloyd’s pleasing rendition of Anna’s “I Love a Man.” In the supporting role of supporting wife, Lloyd is a standout. 

Going forward, Douglass finds friendship and opportunity with William Lloyd Garrison (Thomas Adrian Simpson) an abolitionist who demands absolute fealty from his colleague. He forms a true comradeship with fiery abolitionist John Brown (Chris Roberts), but when their tactics become too dissimilar, the pair part company. 

The second act finds us on the precipice of the Civil War, and it’s here we meet Abraham Lincoln (Simpson again). It’s not the usual hagiographic portrayal we’re used to seeing, far from it. The great savior of the Union is written as a real politician – gladhanding and strategic. Still, Lincoln evolves and benefits from his association with Douglass, even borrowing his thoughts from time to time.

Douglass was a force. Insanely ahead of his time, he called slaveowners to the carpet and expressed the hypocrisy of America at home and on tours abroad. And while the musical does lovingly put his humanness on display, I wanted more. When that jolt of energy and spirit finally comes with the show’s stirring final number “American Prophet,” it’s too little too late. 

Douglass spent his final years in Washington. He died at his home Cedar Hill in Anacostia. He was 77.

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Movies

New doc illuminates Patricia Highsmith’s life and work

‘Intercourse with men is like steel wool to the face’

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Patricia Highsmith was a complicated queer figure. (Image courtesy of Liveright)

If you’ve been transfixed by the amusement park scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train,” rooted for the sociopath Tom Ripley in the 1999 film “The Talented Mr. Ripley” or been moved to tears by the love of Therese and Carol in Todd Haynes’s movie of “Carol,” Patricia Highsmith is etched in your DNA.

Highsmith, who lived from 1921 to 1995 wrote more than 50 books (novels and short story collections). Nearly all of her books were made into movies. 

Recently, “Loving Highsmith,” a fab documentary about Patricia Highsmith has been released. The film, written and directed by Eva Vitija, opens Sept. 2 at the Film Forum in New York and Sept. 9 at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles. “Loving Highsmith” premiered at the Sydney Film Festival and bowed at the Frameline Film Festival in June.

Highsmith, like Tom Ripley and many of her other fictional characters, led a double life. She was a lesbian. But, because of the homophobia of her era, Highsmith had to be closeted about what she called “the ever present subject” of her “homosexuality.”

Except in the 5,000 pages of her diaries and notebooks. (1,000 pages of her diaries and notebooks were published in 2021 in “Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks: 1941-1995.”)

Even if Highsmith weren’t acclaimed for her mastery of suspense, she would be a queer hero.

In 1952, her novel “The Price of Salt” was published under the pseudonym “Claire Morgan.” (It was reissued in 1990 under the title “Carol” and with Highsmith’s real name.)

Then, fiction featuring queer characters had to end unhappily: they died or went to jail. “The Price of Salt,” a rare exception, became a lesbian cult classic. Its protagonists end up together – alive and not in prison.

“Loving Highsmith” deftly uses writings from her diaries and notebooks as well as interviews with her family and lovers to illuminate not only Highsmith’s life and work but queer culture in the 1950s.

The film skillfully interweaves archival clips from interviews with Highsmith and famous film adaptations of her work with stories from her relatives and lovers. Gwendoline Christie (“Game of Thrones”) reads excerpts from Highsmith’s work.

Too often watching documentaries of talented, deceased icons is deadly. You feel like you’re entombed in lifeless talking heads and stagnant images.

You don’t have to worry about “Loving Highsmith.” Its talk and images make Highsmith’s story come alive. 

As the film makes clear, Highsmith was quite “loving.” She had many lovers – in New York, England, France and Germany. Despite trying to cure herself with analysis, Highsmith sexually liked women. “Sexual intercourse [with men] is to me like steel wool to the face,” she says.

Highsmith’s mother, by the accounts of Highsmith herself, her family and her lovers, was a horror show. She told Highsmith that she was sorry she hadn’t aborted her. When Highsmith was 14, her mother berated her for “making noises” like a “les.”

New York had many gay bars in the 1950s, we learn from “Loving Highsmith.” But homophobia was so rampant that you wouldn’t get off at a subway stop near a bar out of fear that a straight friend, family member, or co-worker would see you going into a queer bar.

There is one problem with “Loving Highsmith.” It soft pedals Highsmith’s anti-Semitism and racism. It mentions Highsmith’s prejudices only once: saying Highsmith in her old age reverted to the bigotry of her grandparents.

Highsmith’s bigotry grew more virulent in her old age. But, though she had Jewish friends, Highsmith was anti-Semitic throughout her life.

This doesn’t diminish Highsmith’s literary achievement or iconic role in queer history. Anti-Semitism and racism were likely common in Texas where Highsmith was born and lived before moving to New York when she was six. “Loving Highsmith” is a thoughtful, informative  documentary. It would have been more insightful if more attention had been paid to Highsmith’s prejudices.

Even with this caveat, “Loving Highsmith” is a must-see documentary. It will send you racing to read the nearest Highsmith book at hand.

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Television

For Gaiman fans, ‘Sandman’ is a ‘Dream’ come true

Netflix series offers fantasy space where all feel welcome

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Tom Sturridge makes a dreamy Morpheus in ‘The Sandman.’ (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

For the millions of fans who have embraced Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman” and its darkly beautiful, queer-inclusive mystical universe since it debuted in comic book form more than three decades ago, the arrival of a new Netflix series based on it is a very, very big deal – even if, for the uninitiated, it might be hard to understand why. After all, the streaming giant has already unleashed such a vast array of LGBTQ-friendly fantasy movies and shows that one more, welcome though it may be, hardly seems like anything new.

As any of the above-mentioned fans will quickly tell you, however, “Sandman” is not just any fantasy series. Initiated by DC Comics as a revival of an older comic book of the same name, it was handed over to Gaiman – then still a budding writer of comics with a few promising titles under his belt – with the stipulation that he keep the name but change everything else. The comic series he came up with went on to enjoy a 75-issue original run from 1989 to 1993, an era when an expanded literary appreciation for such works gave rise to the term “graphic novel”, and it joined “Maus” and “Watchmen” among the first few comics to be included on the New York Times Best Seller List. Arguably more important, it also generated a huge and diverse fan following, and its incorporation of multiple queer characters and storylines has inspired subsequent generations of comic book creators to envision new and inclusive fantasy worlds of their own.

Despite that success, it’s taken 33 years for it to finally be adapted for the screen. Beginning in the late ‘90s, attempts were made to develop “The Sandman” for film, but though a few scripts initially managed to win Gaiman’s approval, creative differences inevitably led to a dead end, and the Hollywood rumor mill began to buzz that the story was ultimately “unfilmable” – until 2019, when Netflix and Warner Brothers (parent company to DC Comics) officially reached a deal to bring it to the screen as a series, with Gaiman fully on board and a creative team in place that was determined to faithfully adapt the much-loved original for a contemporary audience.

The show that came from that decision, which premiered on Netflix Aug. 5, makes it clear that the long wait was more than worth it.

“The Sandman” of the title refers to the story’s leading figure – Dream (known also as Morpheus, among other names), one of seven elemental siblings whose mystical realms overlay and intertwine with the human world. As ruler of the dream world, he holds hidden power over all mankind – until a human sorcerer manages to trap him and imprison him on Earth for more than 100 years. Finally freed, he returns to his kingdom to find it in disarray, and he sets out to restore order and undo the damage done – a quest that will require him to enlist the aid of numerous (and sometimes less-than-willing) allies, both human and immortal, to save the cosmos from a chaotic force that has been unleashed in his absence.

Like any good myth cycle, it’s both an epic story and an episodic one, making it a much better fit for the long-form storytelling capacity of series television than for any of the one-off film adaptations that it almost became. In his sweeping, unapologetically allegorical saga of the ever-dueling forces within our human psyche, Gaiman uses broad strokes in composing his plot, recycling and reinventing timeless motifs and themes while relying on our comfortable acceptance of the familiar tropes of myth and magic to get us all on board; the narrative is a massive structure, but it’s not hard to follow the basics. Where “Sandman” becomes complex – and exceptional – is in the details Gaiman gave himself room to explore along the way, the human moments caught in between the monumental cosmic drama. 

It’s these parts of the story that have made his graphic novel iconic, more even than its gothic melancholy or its layered personification of primal forces into complex human archetypes; it’s there, too that he was able to explore a broad and diverse range of human experience, including many queer characters in a time when comic book literature was far from a queer-friendly space. It’s these things that made Gaiman’s comic a touchstone for a wide spectrum of fans – and they would have been the first things that would have been jettisoned had any of the potential “Sandman” films seen the light of day. Because Gaiman has held out for so long to make sure it could be done right, series television has finally given him the chance, as co-creator and co-executive producer (alongside David S. Goyer and Allan Heinberg), to make it happen.

The big-budget Netflix production values certainly help, too, allowing the striking visual aesthetic of the comic – in which even the horrific can be exquisitely beautiful – to come thrillingly alive. The show’s many baroque and gruesome deaths bear testament to that, as does a fourth episode sequence when Morpheus’s quest requires him to descend into a Hell that evokes the macabre beauty of Dore’s illustrations for Dante’s “Inferno,” the very landscape itself made up of the writhing and tormented souls of the damned. The artfulness of this show’s scenic design lingers in the memory, appropriately enough, like images from a dream.

Still, it’s all just scenery without the players, and “Sandman” assembles a top-drawer cast capable of bringing Gaiman’s characters to life with the level of depth they deserve. Tom Sturridge makes for a compelling leading figure, capturing the titular character’s complex mix of coldness and compassion without ever losing our loyalty; he’s supported by an equally talented ensemble of players, including heavyweight UK stalwarts like Charles Dance, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis, and Stephen Fry among a host of less familiar faces, and there’s not a weak performance to be found among any of them.

As to whether the show’s writing does justice to the original, different fans will surely have different opinions. The story has been remolded to fit the modern world, and many elements of the comic have been reconfigured in the process. This is particularly true in terms of representation; though queer characters were always a part of the “Sandman” universe, the comic debuted 34 years ago, and much has changed since then. In bringing the story to the screen, the author and the rest of the creative team have brought things up to date, bringing more nuance to its queer representation even as it expands it wider, and reimagining many of its characters to reflect a more diverse and inclusive vision of the world. Inevitably, these choices may upset some die-hard fans – there’s already been the inevitable toxic outcry against the show’s gender-swapping of characters and the decision to cast actors of color in roles originally depicted as white.

Still, for those who loved the original for providing a fantasy space where ALL could feel welcome – exactly the way Neil Gaiman intended it to be – it’s hard to find a reason to complain.

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