Skip to main content

La Cage Aux Folles

The Playhouse, Edinburgh
Three stars

The all-male chorus line that opens this touring revival of the musical that arguably took drag culture into the mainstream look like a troupe of high-kicking angels as they sashay in formation down the glitzy looking steps of the French night-club that gives composer Jerry Herman and writer Harvey Fierstein's creation its title. Drawn from a 1973 play by Jean Poiret and adapted for the screen five years later, Herman and Fierstein's musical take on Poiret's story hit the big time just as AIDS was making its deadly presence felt.

Something of a sleeper hit because of that, Herman and Fierstein's tale about club-owning Georges and star diva Albin, a long-term gay couple who are forced to jump through social hoops to appear 'normal' to their son's prospective in-laws is both a high-camp farce and accidental show of strength. This loose-knit plot is also the best excuse to gift the world one of the great gay anthems in I Am What I Am.

Martin Connor's glam-looking production allows John Partridge to storm the stage in full diva mode as Albin. His extended first half routine with the audience is a particular treat, even if he seems to have stepped out of the Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club rather than French cafe society. Adrian Zmed makes the perfect foil as Georges, and Marti Webb provides strong support as Jacqueline. In a show that's about standing up to intolerance while reserving the right to be different, it's a flashy, trashy, loud and – eventually – proud affair. Despite its period roots, it remains a fearless show of defiance in an ignorant world.

The Herald, March 9th 2017

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…