Tag Archives: Joanna Scotcher

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – 3 Stars


Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

Reviewed – 1st May 2018


“rough around the edges, let down by uncertainty”


In a pink bus dubbed ‘Priscilla’, two drag queens and a trans-woman travel across the Australian outback to perform at a venue in Alice Springs. The unlikely three run into a series of surprises on the way, some hysterical, some considerably more serious, but the biggest surprise of all awaits them at their destination. Outrageous and glitter covered, the journey is underscored by Tick’s anxieties surrounding his pending reunion with his son, and Bernadette’s own romantic journey. Based on the 1994 hit Australian film ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ and adapted into one of the pioneering jukebox musicals for the stage, this is a cult favourite featuring hits from across the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Mark Inscoe’s Bernadette is the most consistently strong performance of the night. Glamorous, warm and always ready with a biting comment, Inscoe delivers this part with the class and professionalism she deserves and when it comes to the lip syncs Inscoe is impossible to take your eyes off. He looks considerably more comfortable in drag than his fellow actors, and commands the stage unquestionably. Inscoe’s performance is a clear example of the level this whole production needs to reach. Daniel Bailey’s first dance sequence as Adam/Felicia is fantastic – explosive, committed and dynamic. Unfortunately Bailey is unable to bring this energy to his acting. He feels unsure and clumsy, and rather fades into the background, particularly in the larger scenes. Tom Giles as Tick/Mitzi gets progressively stronger throughout, and shines in his show-stopping delivery of ‘MacArthur Park’. This a stand out moment, and he single handedly elevates the energy of the whole production. The relationship between Bernadette and Tick is particularly lovely, genuine and believable, and both Inscoe and Giles deliver moving performances in their more tender moments.

The main cast are joined by a lively community chorus, and the use of actor musicians in the show is a lovely addition which also provides visual variety to a stage, that is otherwise quite bare. Whilst the bus itself is cleverly designed by Joanna Scotcher, the cast are forced to work harder than they might otherwise need to, to generate the feeling of spectacle required. Mark Howland’s lighting design doesn’t help either, overly dark at points and less dynamic than I was hoping to see.

The chorus makes a fantastic sound which is at its best in the slower, harmony-based pieces, however in the faster numbers, particularly in the first half, the vocal entries are often uncertain and late, though the second half picks up in terms of energy and momentum. The vocals are frequently overpowered by the orchestral accompaniment and certain actors struggle without choreographed movement. This is a show whose spectacle relies on these chorus numbers being as impactful and as tight as possible, and it does struggle here.

Glitter, drag queens and a pink bus – if this doesn’t recommend a show, I don’t know what will. This production captures the fun, excitement and tenderness of the story, and is supported by some brilliant performances. Unfortunately it does feel rough around the edges, let down by uncertainty, however I hope that these issues can be solved by more rehearsal over the course of the run as this production is alive with potential.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Mark Sepple



Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch until 26th May


Interview with star of the show – Mark Inscoe


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MADHOUSE re:exit – 3.5 Stars


MADHOUSE re:exit

Shoreditch Town Hall

Reviewed – 15th March 2018


“The mix ultimately creates a rich and jagged brawl”


The programme for MADHOUSE re:exit describes the story of Mabel Cooper, a woman who was institutionalised due to being out of wedlock. After her release in the 1980s she went on to become a key voice in the battle to close long stay hospitals. This promenade show, created by Access All Areas, uses the history of these institutions as inspiration to examine the past and present treatment of people with learning disabilities.

We are invited to Shoreditch Town Hall for a guided tour of Paradise Fields, a new modern care facility. Led into a sterile waiting area, polished videos and slightly too smiley guides welcome us. However, this sheen is broken by the presence of Patients 36, disruptive forces intended to show us the truth behind the visage. They lead us on their alternative tour, comprised of pieces created by five artists and eight researchers, disrupting our experience with a mix of shocking, funny and interesting experiences. The mix ultimately creates a rich and jagged brawl.

A piece of this kind relies on the performances we are led to. Each of these is distinct and vary wildly to create surprises as we enter each room. They swerve from the beautiful, movement pieces from DJ Hassan and Imogen Roberts that create powerful images of caged birds and ancient goddesses. Cian Binchy’s Baby and David Munnis’s Escapist clearly examine both coddling patronisation and the wish to escape from being defined and categorised. Most shocking to witness is Dayo Koleosho’s power play on humiliation, full of images that stick long after the show.

The production from Nick Llewellyn is smooth and confident, with each switch between room never frustrating. It is complimented by the design work from Joanna Scotcher and the rest of the team which leaps between time and place with a beautiful detail for the most part, but some spaces do feel more complete than others.

The niggling shame of the show lies in a story which doesn’t quite merge the parts into a fully satisfying whole, building to an unclimactic ending that doesn’t quite match the feeling that comes before. But this is a deep and impressive show that uses its venue to full potential and brings a provocative and important voice to the discussion.


Reviewed by Callum McCartney

Photography by Helen Murray



MADHOUSE re:exit

Shoreditch Town Hall until 28th March



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