Priscilla Queen of the Desert (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Priscilla Queen of the Desert (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 7th October 2019 by Olivia Mitchell
You'd be hard pressed to find a touring production this year which features more glitter, sequins and colour than Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which is an explosion of all things camp and a treat of a night out.
Based on the 1994 movie of the same name, Priscilla tells the entertaining story of a trio of drag queens who venture across the Australian outback in a temperamental bus to put on the show of a lifetime. Along the way they meet a variety of people, some accepting, some not, and realise the importance of friendship and staying true to themselves. Despite appearing superficial, the story tackles some important issues including diversity and acceptance.
Miles Western plays Bernadette, the older drag queen who has seen the world change around her and often spends time reminiscing on her glamourous past. Whilst, Joe McFadden and Nick Hayes star as Tick/Mitzi and Adam/Felicia, the younger queens who are still discovering themselves and following in the footsteps of those who came before them. Behind all the lashes and costumes, the trio have a genuine chemistry on stage and give strong performances throughout. Miles is especially engaging and give a very well rounded and entertaining performance.

It's the Diva's who give the stand out performances of the show. Aiesha Pease, Claudia Kariuki and Rosie Glossop are absolute powerhouses who sing, sing, sing. Their voices are second to none ad they'd only be better if they had more stage time to wow us with their sass and sanging.

Charles Cusick-Smith and Phil R Daniels' set design is pretty basic, but the show is cleverly scaled for tour. The van Pricilla is a multi-piece design which works well as it's transformed various times. It's the glitzy costumes which are really the visual treats in this show as they create a rainbow coloured, feather filled spectacle on stage. Over the top beyond belief but wonderfully well executed, they are of the highest standard.

This is a dance heavy production which features non-stop motion, with Tom Jackson Greaves's choreography providing high energy action from start to finish. The ensemble do an excellent job of maintaining this and continually provide visual treats which fill scenes and make scene changes full of interest.

With a jukebox score of some incredibly catchy songs, you can't help but bop along to this mile a minute show. From It's Raining Men to I Will Survive and I Can't Stand the Rain, there's something everyone will know and you'll be tapping your stilettos along to the disco beat. The songs provide the momentum for the show as opposed to the storyline. Whilst there are moments of light and shade, the prejudice the group experiences often feels rushed and the darkness and intensity is lost.

Whilst this production could definitely do with a touch more heart and emotional oomph, it's certainly an enjoyable tour and a thrilling example of highly camp, highly glam show with an important message about tolerance.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 12th October before continuing its tour

photo credit: Darren Bell

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