Review: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Mayflower, Southampton

Simon Green as Bernadette, Duncan James as Tick/Mitzi and Adam Bailey as Felicia. Picture: Paul Coltas
Simon Green as Bernadette, Duncan James as Tick/Mitzi and Adam Bailey as Felicia. Picture: Paul Coltas
Tom Chambers as  Bobby and company in Crazy For You. Picture by Richard Davenport

Nice Work If You Can Get It for former Strictly winner Tom Chambers in Crazy For You at Mayflower Theatre

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For a fun night out that’s more camp than Gloria Gaynor’s front door, see this show.

The audience was taken along for the ride as Mitzi, Felicia and Bernadette, three drag queens looking to make a fresh start, journey across the Australian outback on board a bus they christen Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Donna Summer's recording of MacArthur Park is realised onstage in fabulous fashion. Picture: Paul Coltas

Donna Summer's recording of MacArthur Park is realised onstage in fabulous fashion. Picture: Paul Coltas

What sounds like a fairly unglamorous setting is made to shine by the presence of disco-ball lighting, the titular tour bus and a stream of larger-than-life characters, each wearing a costume bigger and bolder than the one before. Cupcakes, lizards and boats were given a drag makeover, and the main trio had a near-endless supply of outfits tucked away in their suitcases.

Of the three principal actors, Simon Green as Bernadette, a transgender woman and drag performer, gave by far the most well-rounded performance. Playing the eldest character, jaded by life experience, Green added a much-need third dimension to an otherwise fun but frivolous show and balanced out the gay stereotypes that provide much of its humour.

And so to Adam Bailey as Felicia. Playing the youngest traveller, a footloose and fancy free hedonist, Adam had the moves, the voice – and a face that scrubs up well in lipstick and lashes. His solo numbers, including Hot Stuff and a bonkers operatic lip-sync perched on top of a giant shoe, were among the best in the show.

The songbook was a greatest hits of diva classics, including a Kylie Minogue medley and I Will Survive. It was at times sung by a female chorus floating in mid-air while the cast lip-synched – the latter to varying degrees of success.

At times Duncan James’s portrayal of Tick, and his drag alter-ego Mitzi, felt a bit contrived, but he got into the spirit – and so too did the mainly-female audience when he got his kit off.

By the final bows, the crowd was on its feet, having caught the party bug. Perhaps the producers should add Rhythm Is Gonna Get You as an encore.

Until September 19.