Thursday, 9 April 2009

'Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert'

Last night we went to see the new show on the block, 'Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert' at the Palace Theatre in Cambridge Circus. I didn't particularly like the film the first time I saw it, but the second viewing made me a fan so I was looking forward to seeing the new stage version and I wasn't let down at all - it was fabulous.

It's largely faithful to the film with a couple of extra 'scenes' in the second half (presumably to balance it) but it was wall-to-wall camp drag queenery with great disco tunes, a melange of colour and sound that rarely let up, moving swiftly from one set piece to another with a million costume changes. Flambouyant doesn't do it justice. Big frocks and costumes, big wigs, masses of make-up, bitchy banter and, of course, Priscilla herself. One side of the bus collapses so we see the journey to Alice Springs from the inside of the bus, driving over kangaroos, koalas and even a corgi....

I was pleasantly surprised by Jason Donovan, someone I've never really paid any attention to in the past, but he had a nice stage presence and a good voice. The dialogue has been updated for the Kylie generation and at one point when the three chums are remembering the golden age of 'Neighbours' Jason says in an off-hand way that he always preferred Scott to Sharleen. He would.

Normally I try to enlighten you my describing a favourite sequence or song but, with 'Priscilla', that's an impossibility - too much to choose from. I loved the giant silver stiletto on the roof of the bus that slowly extended to the front of the bus and then continued out over the audience. I loved the glitter balls that made it feel like I was inside a giant snow-globe. I loved the three song-birds who descended from the sky every now and then to sing the songs mimed by the drag queens on stage. I loved the disco beats and the indie-Kylie medley. I loved so much more - I had a stupid grin on my face for most of the time while my eyes drank in the unfolding scenes on the stage.

I loved the show and aim to see it again (o yes!) and my only gripe is with the theatre itself which doesn't seem to have been designed with line-of-sight in mind. We were sitting in the grand circle about one third of the way into the row which meant I couldn't see the front corner of the stage where a lot of action took place. The seats are also oddly banked so that whenever anyone in front leaned forward a chunk of stage vanished behind their head. Take my advice and pay more for the stalls or circle, I will next time.

Go and see it. It may not be great art but it is great fun!

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