Review Round-up: Critics Wig Out for McCraney?
It caps a successful year for young American playwright McCraney, who recently won the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright award for his play In the Red and Brown Water which was at the Young Vic Theatre in October. His play The Brother’s Size also returned to the Young Vic this year after premiering to critical acclaim at the same venue in 2007. The cast of Wig Out! includes Danny Sapani, Kate Gillespie, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Holly Quin-Ankrah and Leon Lopez.
For the show, the auditorium has been transformed by designer Ultz into the ‘House of Light’, a “hyper-glamorous and uber-competitive” drag queen refuge where the residents prepare for a catwalk showdown. But while the House are primping and preening, drag queen Nina is wooing the delectable Eric as ‘Wilson’, a de-camped, make-up free ‘straight’ gay man. How can Nina/Wilson strut the thorny divide between opposite genders and differing worlds?
Expectations were high due to Tarell Alvin McCraney’s recent success, but many critics felt that despite the “extravagance of the spectacle” and the “infectious glee” it created, compared to his work at the Young Vic, Wig Out! was “disappointingly superficial” and lacked “the sting and grace of McCraney’s idiomatic writing”. There was praise for the performances, with Kevin Harvey being described as “gloriously grand and heartbroken” while Craig Stein and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett\'s were said to “strut their stuff with great style”. But overall, the critics felt that the production’s plentiful sparkle and glamour could not make up for a lack of depth.
- by Kate Jackson