Priscilla Queen of the Desert has been delighting audiences since 2009 when it spent almost three years at the Palace Theatre. It has spent the last year touring the UK with it’s scaled down version of the more recent broadway production.
Based on the 1994 film, Priscilla Queen of the Desert sees three Sydney drag queens pack up their wigs and set off on a journey across Australia, on a bright pink bus, to perform in Alice Springs as a favour to Ticks (Jason Donovan) secret wife. Camp live-wire Felicia and ex lay girl Bernadette find this shock revelation even more intriguing, when they find out Tick also has a 6 year old son who he has never met.
Fun and frolics ensue on their trip across the country, stopping off at rural towns like Broken Hill and Coober Peedy where drag queens are not a welcomed sight. They fight their way through the homophobic towns, picking up mechanic Bob along the way, who decides to leave his Thai bride wife after she causes one too many embarrassments in the local pub.
Richard Grieve gives a good performance as transsexual Bernadette. Having previously played the role of Tick in the west end it was nice to see his ability to fit into another role so easily. I am not sure which actor was playing six year old Benj at the performance I saw (which is probably best) but I don’t think he was even attempting to put on an Australian accent (something which should be a requirement for getting the role and seemed a lazy casting choice).
Wimbledon is one of the final stops on the shows UK tour and it feels like many of the cast are in need of a break, delivering half hearted lines and gestures. Singing voices that may or may not have been there at the start of the tour, seem lost and out of tune. However, with so many well known dance floor classics (It’s Raining Men, Go West, I Will Survive, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and a jukebox full of others) in the show, the audience don’t care and have a great time singing along to the fun, colourful show.
The set has been scaled down from the west end production for this tour but it doesn’t really detract from the show. If it’s a fun night out you want, with dancing in the aisles then you won’t be disappointed. But if you’re hoping to see the spectacle that graced the west end stage a few years back, you may find yourself wanting some change back from the price of your ticket.
Reviewed by West End Wilma