The Drama Queens occupy a unique place on the scene. They are a drag theatre company made up of established cabaret stars with talented amateurs and new faces, all led by writer and director Spike Rhodes.
Last week they debuted their show Queer’lesque at Pulse, a venue Boyz readers usually know as the home of XXL. Using the DJ box and floor space in front of it as a layered stage, representing on stage and backstage I think, the XXL main room became an effective and impressive theatre space complete with large screen and the audience in comfortable sofas.
The show is a celebration of gay culture that concentrates on the past 50 years with flashes of earlier icons such as Oscar Wilde. Opening with a set from La Cage aux Folles the show uses the art, and here it’s most definitely an art form, of lip syncing to both musical numbers and dialogue from this and many other musicals, films and TV shows. Queer’lesque seamlessly mixes up iconic scenes to tell a story of queer culture from traditional shows to more recent works such as Taboo.
There’s a great sequence from the musical version of The Naked Civil Servant and we get a fairly trippy sequence from the Wizard of Oz that leads into the emotional funeral of Judy Garland as played by Mrs Moore and the Stonewall Riots. The whole show finishes with Tanya Hyde performing Lady Gaga’s Born This Way as the rest of the cast pull off their wigs to huge applause. The show was totally enjoyable, the pace was fast but with enough room to breath and there were lots of very funny moments. The large cast were all good, and unsurprisingly the more experienced performers, especially Morag McDuff, Mrs Moore, Tanya Hyde and a scene stealing Craiger Bell stood out. Queer’lesque worked as an education to aspects of our queer history but it also worked as a thoroughly enjoyable show with real heart and joy at its centre. 4/5