Review: Priscilla Queen of the desert at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

From the two drag artists greeting you at the entrance to the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham to the men in tiny gold lame shorts belting out It’s Raining Men, Priscilla Queen of the Desert promised to be a deep dive into the world of camp and it did not disappoint.

Like Rod, Jane and Freddy on acid this production positively exudes enthusiasm, energy and kitsch brilliance and the audience lapped it up in Cheltenham.

The show is an ultra camp roadtrip across Australia’s Outback featuring two drag queens and an old transgender woman in a big silver bus called Priscilla. The travellers meet redneck Ozzies and an aboriginal man as they cross the dusty flats of Australia. The main protagonist Tick (or Mitzi) played by Edwin Ray as a drag artist in the autumn of his/her career going to reunite with the son he had from a previous marriage in Alice Springs and ably helped by his travelling companions – another drag artist and transgender woman.

Throughout the show a pumping soundtrack featuring hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s give Priscilla a real sense of pace and movement which was fantastically capitalised on by the extraordinarily talented cast.

They flick between cutting camp putdowns, often interacting with the audience, and serious questions of acceptance and how it feels to be an outsider in today’s society. Overall the whole show leaves you feeling warm and excited while showing the harsh reality of homophobia in society.

Three singers provide an omnipresent touch of class to Priscilla belting out classic anthems throughout the show and whipping up the audience. This is not a show for those who don’t like to get really involved in the performance and everyone was dancing in their seats at numerous occasions throughout.

The dancing is excellent and truly balletic in form as men in tight shorts with greased bodies perform energetic routines.

Priscila Queen of the Desert is an uplifting tour de force and one which had Cheltenham rocking.

It is playing at The Everyman until Saturday August 14.