- December 19, 2019
Theatre Royal Brighton’s seasonal offering this year is a crowd pleasing dollop of campery with much to admire. This new production is a reworking of the West End hit with new sets and costumes that prove there is definitely more than one way to skin a kangaroo.
Larded with pop classics there is much to enjoy and unlike the bulk of “jukebox” musicals they earn their place in the overall structure of the show and retain the spirit of the original film.
It’s a heart warming “road” show that perhaps for once deserves the word “journey” which is so frequently applied to any kind of experience. At the heart of the show is Tick, a gay man, drag queen and secretly a father. Joe McFadden plays it with delicate charm and reveals that he has a great voice. Surprisingly though he is not challenged by his dance numbers considering he was a Strictly winner. I for one was expecting more terpsichoreal talent on display from him but this is more than made up for by a corps of talented dancers and some exciting dance numbers and inventive choreography.
Miles Western plays Bernadette with style, bitter yes and worldly wise but also fragile. Nick Hayes is spectacular as Felicia, a ball of energetic camp exuberance, spiky and savage and he delivers every number with fire and fury.
Daniel Fletcher’s Bob is well placed, a balance of machismo and gentle giant that is bound to appeal to trans Bernadette by the end.
The set works well for the most part, easy transitions created from corrugated iron but the final scene lacks the impact required as they are merely standing in front of a barely recognisable image of Uluru and only visible from the knees up. It lacks the impact required for that triumphant and symbolic moment, a bit of wind swept chiffon would not have gone amiss. Costumes are good on the whole although I felt that some of the chorus ensembles were a little, dare I say it, baggy and could have been closer fitting. That’s just me I guess.
The three divas, the carrying musical force for the whole show, are superb, big, bold and beautifully brassy and they belt out those anthemic tunes with real conviction, hats off to you Aiesha, Claudia and Rosie! And there’s little to misunderstand about Kevin Yates’ performance, the pure essence of drag devilry.
Panto this ain’t but as a Christmas treat it will put smiles on a great many peoples faces and maybe change a few hearts when it comes to tales of homophobia and acceptance.
Theatre Royal Brighton