With a free afternoon in London before heading off to Minehead for the Butlins rock weekend I thought I’d take a look at the V&A’s Theatre and Performance exhibition. This permanent exhibition is about stage performance in its widest sense, but amidst the magnificently ornate costumes from nineteenth century productions of Shakespeare, a sparkling line-up of pantomime dame outfits and Dame Edna’s famous Sydney Opera House-shaped hat, there are a number of exhibits that are of particular interest to rock and pop enthusiasts.
From a small display devoted to Madness memorabilia, to stage outfits worn by the likes of Elton John and Jimmy Page, to a ukulele played by George Formby, there’s some interesting artefacts, even if the selection seems somewhat random.
L-r: Jimmy Page's peacock suit, Elton John's bicycle outfit and George Formby's ukulele
However, the exhibition really needs to be seen in it’s wider context to properly appreciate it and the way that twentieth century rock and pop acts fitted into a tradition of stage performance stretching back centuries.
Recreation of Kylie Minogue's backstage dressing room
If you are taking a trip to London’s museum quarter in South Kensington anyway it’s definitely worth taking a look at – and like all other permanent exhibitions in the capital’s main museums it’s completely free.
L-r: Coldplay's Chris Martin's stagewear and Adam Ant's Dandy Highwayman outfit