Priscilla, Queen of the Desert | Tour
Can you believe that it is 25 years since the film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert first screened? This was followed by the musical version which was a huge hit in Australia before it wowed London. Who can forget the iconic pink stiletto (10 years ago) gracing the front of the West End’s Palace Theatre long before it became a Wizarding Kingdom and home of Harry Potter? Priscilla is now touring the country once again and opened for the Christmas season last night at the Theatre Royal in Brighton.
Set in Australia, the show brings plenty of sunshine and colour to an otherwise dark and depressing winter. It is the story of three drag queens travelling from Sydney to Alice Springs in a dilapidated bus which they name Priscilla. They each go on their own personal journey; Tick prepares to meet his son for the first time and worries about what kind of father he’ll be, Bernadette, a transgender woman, feels washed up as she relives her previous life in the successful Les Girls, whereas Adam, the most flamboyant of the trio, resolves to follow his dream of climbing Aires Rock as Show Girl Kylie. Travelling on a bus across the desert for two weeks highlights the characters differences but the shared desire for acceptance bonds them.
Joe McFadden is the ‘name’ of the show taking the role of Tick; Joe delivers spot-on vocals, sassy hip action and an infectious smile, though admittedly is overshadowed by the other Queens; Brighton’s very own Miles Western, a convincing Bernadette delivering sarcastic one-liners with delicious acidity and Nick Hayes is delightful to watch as Adam and his alter ego Felicia.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is chock-a-block with toe-tapping, feel-good disco anthems from the 70s and 80s, each one a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Earth, Wind a and Fire’s Boogie Wonderland, The Pets Shop Boys’ Go West and Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff are just a few of the classic mood-lifting songs on offer and the addition of ‘It’s Raining Men’ to open the show is inspired genius.
For those who have seen Priscilla before, be warned: this is a vastly scaled-down production making it much more convenient to tour. It has lost much of its glitz and glamour; the costumes while still complimenting the story beautifully are less big and bold and the set is simpler, drawing its influence from the desolate countryside they are travelling through. There is also no longer a full-size bus on stage; however, Priscilla is cleverly built when needed by the cast from other parts of the scenery.
Does it matter that Priscilla has lost a little of its sparkle? Judging by the MASSIVE standing ovation last night – not a jot. Thankfully there is a lot more acceptance for the LGBTQA+ community now than there was 25 years ago however this show reminds us that we still have a way to go. The whole rainbow vibe of acceptance, love understanding is still very much at the heart of the show and long may it last.
A perfect feel-good festive treat… Priscilla colours our world for the better every time.
Reviewer: Sammi O’Neill
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is currently playing at the Theatre Royal Brighton until January 4th 2020