First performed in March, this reprise of Charles Busch’s uproariously acidic camp comedy returns for Manchester Pride in the suitably trashy surrounds of Sashas Hotel.
A pastiche of the schlocky Grand Dame dramas of mid-20th century cinema (What Happened To Baby Jane?; Dead Ringer; Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte) the action follows the life of faded star Angela Arden, her family and assorted hangers-on in the wake of the death of Angela’s twin sister, Barbara.
Plotted like an episode of Dallas after an all-night peyote binge the story ricochets from adultery and drugging to arsenic-laced suppositories and, with subtlety in short supply, the cast attack their characters with relish. In a cross-dressing lead turn Dale Vickers plays haute-couture horror Angela with high-octane abandon, cartoonish-ly mugging through his lines with a series of moues, pouts and arched painted eyebrows.
He is supported by a snappy ensemble cast, especially Dave McLaughlin, who brings a frenetic energy to Angela’s screwball son, Lance Sussman and Adele Stanhope as Angela’s daddy-obsessed daughter, Edith.
At times the pounding pace and volume dialed to eleven distract from the drama and a bit more texture to the rhythm and characterisation would help highlight the humour, but taken on its own Technicolor terms this a hell of a lot of fun.
- James Stanley