The Phoenix Arts Club
Reviewed – 7th August 2019
“it is nevertheless fantastic to see so many exciting new artists starting out and defying convention in drag”
Fresh from Michael Twaits’ ‘Art of Drag’ course, the stars of ‘Drag What?!’ are new to the stage and ready to change the drag world for good. Our host Prospero opens the show with a promise: this will be a night of the “most unusual drag” we have ever experienced. And it’s a fantastically varied line up, that brings together people of multiple genders and unexpected skillsets.
Lola del Fuego or ‘Miss Visa Denied’ is the cleaner, drafted in for the night and full of enthusiasm, ready to showcase her burlesque potential. Next up, Lx Motley delivers a powerful spoken word piece called ‘I’m not yelling, I’m just tired’ about coping with the constant backlash against non-binary people in real life and online. Lx Motley returns to close the show later in the night, with a fierce lipsync. Professor Q. Cumber, as the name suggests, is a cucumber enthusiast, a topic area rife with the possibility for innuendo and phallic imagery. The performer is clearly having a brilliant time onstage, and it’s infectious. Perrie Alore circles the piece back to its titular question, challenges societally held assumptions about who qualifies as a drag artist. Prospero, a bisexual drag wizard as well as hosting, combines a conversation about bisexuality with magic ropes, and some very large cards.
Will Actually, “gentleman poet” and comedian is a particular highlight. The poetry is witty, well-observed and eloquent, each piece fronted with an introduction as funny and engaging as the poems themselves. Will is an accomplished and sophisticated performer with a twinkle in their eye.
Veneer’s act is a lipsync performance about living with Borderline Personality Disorder. It is a performance that feels genuine and personal, and as a result carries massive emotional impact. In the intimate cabaret set up of the Phoenix Art Club, I leave the night feeling like I know all of the performers far better than an audience member ever really can.
Some of the acts are smoother and more polished than others. Many of these performers are at the beginning of their careers and it shows, but it is nevertheless fantastic to see so many exciting new artists starting out and defying convention in drag. Full of heart and promise, this is a collective to watch out for, and an undeniably enjoyable evening.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
The Phoenix Arts Club as part of Camden Fringe 2019
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