WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHEN?: 5/12/20, runs to 17/1/21
WHERE?: Garrick Theatre UPDATE: Lockdown means this production closed early with its last performance 15/12/20
The last time we saw Holly Stars perform she dragged us on stage for our West End debut and this season she returns with a ‘Dragatha Christie’ show she has written herself.
- Read on for reasons including why this is a lot of fun although could have done with the snip
For those uninitiated in the ways of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and why wouldn’t you be, the death drop is the manoeuvre by which a drag queen falls dramatically to the floor in a move similar to the splits but not quite so exposing.
One suspects the combination of this pun with the idea for a ‘Dragatha Christie’ whodunnit was enough to get this show greenlit because it’s a commercial, easily understandable concept that works well.
Arriving at our socially distanced venue we’re greeted by pre-show music that is the best use of 80s hits since Heathers at the Other Palace and the combination of bangers by acts such as Dead Or Alive, Bananarama, Divine and Sinitta succeeds in camping up the atmosphere, getting us in the mood and giving us a sense of time.
It’s 1991 and we’re about to join a celebrity-filled celebration of the 10th anniversary of the marriage of Charles and Diana but first for some bad news voiced by the pre-show announcer which sets the scene: ‘We regret to inform you that Elle MacPherson and Claudia Schiffer will be unable to perform this evening due to an uncontrollable bout of diarrhoea.’
Drag Race UK star Vinegar Strokes is 1st on stage as host Lady von Fistenburg and she’s a charismatic and big presence who introduces show writer Holly Stars playing triplets Blue, Brie and Spread Bottomley who are preparing the food for the evening.
Guests include Drag Race US stars Courtney Act and Monet X Change who play respectively a washed-up 80s pop star with a whiff of Kylie and a US TV weather forecaster who has already been on intimate terms with 1 of the guests still to arrive.
This is an all-drag affair and we particularly enjoyed Louis Cyfer channelling our prime minister as a disgraced MP and Anna Phylactic as an all-too believable tabloid editor. Kemah Bob plays a similar role to when we last saw him as Prince Charming in Cinderella at the Trafalgar Studios last Christmas.
We share Stars’ love of inserting 70s and 80s references into the show, including for Fab lollies, Viennetta and Swiss rolls, and the humour is as broad as you might expect from a drag show with an emphasis on physical comedy including bodily functions from both ends.
We suspect Stars also enjoyed Morecambe and Wise and The Generation Game because the intentional humour feels both slapstick and improvisational with the drag twist bringing it back kicking and screaming into the modern day.
We’re in the West End but in the midst of a pandemic and the cheap feel to the set and comedy makes sense although we did feel that at 150 minutes with an interval a real tabloid editor might have given the appropriate running time a bit of a snip.
Drag Race stars Act, X Change and Strokes are all good reasons to see this and there’s lots of laughs but we suspect it might be Stars who eventually enjoys the most success. Her apparent adlib of ‘and a funny half thunder’ when a sound effect appeared not to go quite right was one of many of her gags which landed with us and had us rolling about the floor.