Naughty but nice
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Orchard Theatre, Dartford
Outrageous doesn’t come close.
Uproariously vulgar is much closer to the often overstepped mark for Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which is hitting audiences at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre right between the eyes this week.
From curtain up when, glitter balls spinning, the three Divas - Emma Kingston, Ellie Leah and Laura Mansell - appear suspended from the ceiling in eye-popping costumes belting out It’s Raining Men it is obvious this is going to be no ordinary musical.
Those who have seen the 1994 film starring Terence Stamp will have an inkling of what to expect of this journey through the Australian outback by three Kylie-loving Sydney drag queens in an exotically decorated bus called Priscilla.
Basically, it’s stag and hen party heaven, fired by disco anthems, and probably not for those easily offended and macho men seriously out of touch with their feminine side.
Each production features 500 costumes, 200 hats, 100 wigs, 150 shoes, vats of slap and mascara and a cast camper than several rows of tents.
Few, if any, of the gags can be repeated. One involves a man called Trumpet and a ginger nut biscuit, but you will have to buy a ticket to hear the lewd pay-off line.
Richard Grieve, Noel Sullivan and Graham Weaver
Four letter words abound and figure in graffiti writ large across the bus telling “faggots” to go away in no uncertain terms.
Even so, it has it’s touching moments as our titillating trio battle against prejudice, hostility and even cringing violence.
Noel Sullivan, of Popstars and Hear’Say fame, plays Tick, who in another life was married and fathered a child, persuades his fellow female impersonators to join him for a gig in Alice Springs as he faces up to his responsibilities,
While Sullivan and acid-tongued Adam (Graham Weaver) are gloriously gay and outlandish, it is Richard Grieve (Neighbours, Home and Away and Emmerdale) as the aging transsexual Bernadette who sparkles most.
Graham Weaver, Noel Sullivan, Richard Grieve
While the best voices belong to the Divas, Sullivan shows that his early burst of fame and talent wasn’t wasted, especially when crooning the classic MacArthur Park as dancers in crazy cupcake frocks cavort around him.
There is also a touching duet with his cute tousled-haired son Benji, played by Cooper Stout from Ashford.
As I said, not to everybody’s taste, but the laughter and smiling faces said it all for this touchy feely good show as the near capacity audience left the theatre.
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert will be at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford, until Saturday, September 14. Tickets from £22. Call 01322 220000. It will then move to Canterbury's Marlowe Theatre from Monday, September 23 to Saturday, September. Tickets from £20. Call 01227 787787.