Music Hall Monster: The Insatiable Fred Barnes

Fred Barnes was a famous music hall singer. He fell spectacularly from grace, brought down by a shockingly modern range of addictions: sex, shopping, alcohol, and a need for celebrity. At the pinnacle of his fame in the 1920s he was fabulously wealthy and sported the height of extravagant fashion with a marmoset on his shoulder. By the mid 1930s he was singing for pennies in Southend pubs with a chicken on his shoulder.

His life was one of gothic horror, total extremes, and rather lovely songs. Olivier Award-winning theatre-maker and Wilton’s Music Hall associate, Christopher Green takes to the stage as Fred Barnes, fresh from taking his immersive entertainment about pornography, Prurience, to the Guggenheim Museum, New York.

In today’s language we might call this ‘wavyhaired, blue-eyed Adonis’ queer, gender fluid, an addict, a predator or perhaps we might just fall at his feet and call him ‘a star’.

More information at the the Wilton’s Music Hall website here

In February 2018, Christopher Green and entertainment legend Roy Hudd, presented a different take on Fred Barnes’ life, How Success Ruined Me, a critically acclaimed drama commissioned and broadcast by BBC Radio 4.  You can listen here