top of page

Review BH Priscilla Queen of the Desert 2016

Priscilla is Queen of musicals
Review BH Priscilla Queen of the Desert 2016

Tuck yourself in, and polish your glitter-balls – Priscilla has come to the Bristol hippodrome.
The drag queens have dusted the desert off their diamantés and brought a little fabulous to town.
The beloved Australian film from 1994 was a glorious feast of camp joy.
The stage show pulls on the movie's stiletto heels and strides to even higher levels of spectacle. In the stage show there is more music and more dancing than the film could have handled.
The performance of the three lead actors was impressive.
Duncan James as Tick was spectacular in drag, and as a nervous father. Simon Green's Bernadette seemed to channel 1950s screen queens like Deborah Kerr and Katherine Hepburn.
My personal favourite was Adam Bailey as Felicia.
He was a more vulnerable and brittle character than the screen original.
We felt his pain when his façade slipped and the sadness beneath was revealed. Masterfully done all round.
Much of the shows comedy comes from the interaction between the heroes and the everyday Aussie people, as well as the less than everyday.
The supporting cast did a great job of switching from gay bar clientèle in one scene, to gruffing it up as Coober Pedy opal miners in another.
Another highlight was Shirley the barmaid looking for love.
She was grotesquely and hilariously played by Catherine Mort.
On the way in I wondered how the performance would handle the mechanics of the lip-syncing which played a huge part in the film.
The production pulled it off in a dramatic and effective manner by way of three Divas who were suspended in the air above the syncing performers beneath.
Credit once more to Catherine Mort along with Laura Mansell and Lisa-Marie Holmes for their acrobatic arias.
The musical production was a joy to listen too.
The musicians played the beloved disco tracks and camp classics of the score with real heart.
Beneath the brash and bright exterior beats a story with real heart. It is a story which has come into its own in our world where eastern European homophobia and US transgender hysteria is in our news most days.
The drama was shocking and dark when set against such a bright and happy background.
The audience reacted with each hateful blow and we felt the characters' pain.
Thankfully the darker moments are soon over and we get back to the show's central message of partying and dancing the blues away.
This is a show about love.
From the love of a friend, to the love of a child for his father as yet unknown, its all here in its various, complicated, occasionally messy, but always worthwhile forms.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is the perfect way to forget your troubles and clap and cheer and stamp away the blues.
Here's hoping her wheels roll on forever

Andy Bollan

bottom of page