Thursday, 17 December 2015

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Edinburgh Playhouse
Four stars

A giant pink lipstick stands centre-stage with proudly phallic intent at the opening of Stephan Elliot and Allan Scott's camp musical take on Elliot's 1994 film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The equally garish map of Australia that stands behind it marks out the route which our cross-dressing, gender-bending hero/ines will follow over the next two and a half hours in their magic bus.

A coloured lightshow turns the Playhouse into a gay disco writ large as it ushers us into the backstage world of Tick, aka Mitzi, Adam, better known as Felicia, and Les Girls veteran Bernadette. While getting a glimpse of Jason Donovan in his pants as Tick before he dons feather boa and wig to lip-synch with artful abandon is enough for some, there is the small matter of Tick's six year old son and the promise of a job on the other side of the country.

This is the only plot-based excuse required in Simon Phillips' production to soundtrack a funeral with Don't Leave Me This Way and illustrate one of two classics from the Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent songbook with a chorus line of dancing paint brushes. Nudgingly knowing references to Neighbours era Kylie abound.

For these Edinburgh dates only, Karen Dunbar gives an all too brief cameo as a mullet-sporting boozer with a restless chest, while Gavin Mitchell plays Bob, the macho mechanic with hidden depths. Donovan, a restless Adam Bailey as Felicia and and an elder stateswoman-like Simon Green as Bernadette, all shine, rounding things off with a set of grand finale frocks that would outdo every pantomime dame in this and any other town.

The Herald, December 17th 2015

ends

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