Tag Archives: Above the Stag

Happily Ever Poofter
★★★★

Above the Stag

Happily Ever Poofter

Happily Ever Poofter

Above the Stag

Reviewed – 2nd July 2019

★★★★

 

“this is a frivolous, fun fairy tale that draws attention to a serious issue in LGBTQ+ representation”

 

We had to wait until 2017 for Disney’s first ever gay character to make it on screen – namely Gaston’s sidekick LeFou in Bill Condon’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ live action remake. Cyrus Goodman, from Disney Channel’s ‘Andi Mack’, created a stir in February this year for being the first character on a Disney show to say “I’m gay” after coming out in Season Two. And we all can’t wait for Jack Whitehall’s mysterious “openly gay” character in next year’s ‘Jungle Cruise’. Despite all this, we all know Disney has a long way to go for LGBTQ+ representation, and it’s precisely this that comes under fire in Rich Watkins hilariously risqué cabaret show, now doing a run of Edinburgh previews.

This one-man-marathon sees Prince Henry leaving the land of fairy tales and princesses to enter the ‘real world’ and discover what it means to be gay. His fairy godfather shows him the way into the London gay “scene” where he meets an array of charming men (from Bashful to… erm… Sleepy) and finds comfort and community in (you guessed it) Above the Stag. His journey teaches him some crucial lessons. By finding community, he eventually learns how to be himself – even in the hostile, heteronormative landscape of fairy tale land.

Watkins, who is both writer and performer, has constructed a charming and whimsical show. A smattering of audience participation keeps the crowd engaged and in hysterics, and his witty reimagining of Disney songs is endlessly entertaining (highlights include a recontextualised version of “Someday My Prince Will Come” that you’ll never forget). Behind the shimmer curtain lies an important message however. Gay identity is often shaped by what we see – if we don’t see ourselves, how can we learn to be ourselves?

Denholm Spurr’s direction, coupled with Simone Murphy’s choreography, ensure the silliness remains throughout, and Watkins really works hard here, responding well to audience heckles and good-spirited joining in. Watkins could be bolder with his singing (there’s a fantastic voice in there desperate to get out) and could trust his audience with the jokes more, but overall this is a frivolous, fun fairy tale that draws attention to a serious issue in LGBTQ+ representation whilst nevertheless making sure everyone, Disney fan or no, is thoroughly entertained.

 

Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

 

Above The Stag Theatre

Happily Ever Poofter

Above the Stag until 2nd July as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe preview tour

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Title Of Show | ★★★★ | February 2019
Goodbye Norma Jeane | ★★ | March 2019
Romance Romance | ★★★★ | March 2019
Queereteria TV | ★★ | April 2019
Fanny & Stella: The Shocking True Story  | ★★★★ | May 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Fanny and Stella

Fanny and Stella: The Shocking True Story
★★★★

Above the Stag

Fanny and Stella

Fanny and Stella: The Shocking True Story

Above The Stag

Reviewed – 10th May 2019

★★★★

 

“a fantastic romp through the Victorian world, in all its pomposity, hypocrisy and raw authenticity”

 

From the moment we enter the theatre we know we are in for a night of Victorian entertainment – part musical, part pantomime, part courtroom drama. Glenn Chandler’s ‘Fanny & Stella’ transports us, via Bermondsey Working Men’s Club, to the drama of a pair who describe themselves as ‘he-she ladies’. It is a fantastic romp through the Victorian world, in all its pomposity, hypocrisy and raw authenticity.

The drama takes them through their turbulent love life, through to their time of arrest and trial for dressing as women and ‘conspiring and inciting persons to commit an unnatural offence’. Much of the action is beautifully portrayed through the songs, with standout performances from Tobias Charles as Fanny, and Kieran Parrott as Stella. The music underscores the action, telling the story and giving us an insight into the joys and sufferings of the characters. Chandler’s lyrics are witty and in some cases vulgar. The formal music hall tunes (score by Charles Miller), with four part harmonies are punctured with risqué references, much to the amusement of the audience.

The set equally plays its part, with two closets involved. It is no coincidence that entrances and exits are made through these – part of director Steven Dexter’s nimble work in bringing out moments of commentary alongside the farce. Sometimes however some parts lacked subtlety, Fanny and Stella recount their own tale in a deliberately elaborate manner, yet at points this staging of their story feels over-egged.

This is a minor quibble. There is potential for a play like this to be a heavy-handed vehicle to comment on today’s gender and sexual politics. However, Charles and Parrott allow the characters to speak for themselves and for the story to breath. In this ambitious play it is left to us to make the connections, and draw our own conclusions, and it’s all the better for it.

As an audience, we are sucked into the old forms of melodrama and music hall, with top hats and jazz hands galore. What makes this show special is that it has a twist in the tail. In the end, it is the clever knowing quality of the songs that really stand out creating a new, more relevant form of pantomime.

 

Reviewed by Emily Morris

 

Fanny and Stella

Fanny and Stella: The Shocking True Story

Above the Stag until 2nd June

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Title Of Show | ★★★★ | February 2019
Goodbye Norma Jeane | ★★ | March 2019
Romance Romance | ★★★★ | March 2019
Queereteria TV | ★★ | April 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com