KINSEY SICKS: THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T SAY

Wed 2nd – Sun 13th August 2017

reviews

Helen Chatterton

at 13:46 on 9th Aug 2017

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The art of drag has always been one politically charged due to its very nature. ‘Kinsey Sicks: Things You Shouldn’t Say’ does not shy away from such. As well as performing a number of “dragapella” songs, the group uses their platform to promote feelings of rage and hope, creating an evening of humour and emotion. No punches are pulled, with commentaries on current homophobia, racism and the threat posed by a president made famous for popularising “coffee.”

Whilst an aesthetic world away from the “fishy” drag queens popular on RuPaul’s Drag Race, the singing capabilities of the four part “Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet", which has been around for 24 years, far exceeds most of what the aforementioned show bears witness to.

The parody songs written and performed by the group are as clever as they are funny, and the harmonies of the group blended extremely well. A particular favourite was “Putin in the Ritz”, a parody of “Puttin’ on the Ritz”. The different members of the group complimented each other well both vocally and in personality. At times, some references went over my head, but these were far and few between.

As might be expected, there are also moments of outrageous sexuality and comedy throughout, with Rachel bringing out a member of the audience to be effectively used as a dance prop. Similarly, the show started with a warning that on the occasion that anyone’s phone went off, the group would insert it in them.

For me, however, the selling point of ‘Kinsey Sicks: Things You Shouldn’t Say’ is the monologue given by Rachel, a civil rights lawyer who created the first national AIDS legal project and has served as a presidential advisor on HIV issues. In the segment, she gives a heart wrenching account of their experience of the AIDS crisis in America, the use of the epidemic as a political weapon by the Republicans, and the countless deaths of family and friends. From there, the group performed a song written by Rachel on the night Jerry Friedman, a founding member of the group, passed. The lyrics from such really pulled at the heart strings. The point of the discourse was reactionary to current affairs, and to implore the audience not to be passive bystanders.

From here, the show sprang rapidly back to usual drag comedy. The contrast was a little jarring, with some of the audience still wiping away tears. However, the return does eventually lift the spirits of the crowd.

Some may say that perhaps ‘Kinsey Sicks: Things You Shouldn’t Say’ does was “too political”, but I would strongly argue against this, as the production is a well-executed and vitally significant piece of work, with the added bonus of overdrawn lips, glitter, feather boas, and some very talented singing.

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Claire Louise Richardson

at 18:38 on 9th Aug 2017

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I went to see a ‘Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet’ which is as fabulous as it sounds. This was a fantastic show in which four American drag queens performed a capella, but with quite a twist. As they tell us in the first few minutes - ‘if you thought you were coming to see a charming and innocent drag show… oopsies… drag queens have BALLS’. This is more than just a performance: the quartet are storytellers.

As such the show is centred on the reality behind the show curtain of the four women who make up the Quartet. There are some classic gags with a member of the front row being straddled by one of the ladies, and there are feather boas, and there are fabulous outfits, hair and make-up, darling, but this is all a farce surrounding what the Quartet are actually here to say. In a sense, we are lulled into a false sense of security with this drag act, but the audience were warned by the publicity: ‘if you hate trump, you’ll love this act!’

These are ‘real men’ in disguise, and this is actually an intense political piece about the current political landscape in America, with a particular focus on Trump’s impact on the homosexual community. There is some very dry humour and some very honest and moving stories are presented by the girls, with a very clean structure. Some might find it overly intense and almost confrontational at times, but it was a very clever way to tackle the issues at stake. The plays ending is a diversion from the initial tone of the piece, after its steady crescendo from a capella and feather boas, to an appeal to the audience to ignore the discrimination and find our inner Drag Queen. ’If a freak falls in the forest, does it make a sound?’ they ask, discussing how the freedom they experience was ‘won on the backs of hundreds and thousands of dead gay men’. For the Quartet, we must embrace our inner drag persona, and confront a world that is pushing back the equality these dead men fought so hard to earn.

As the Quartet say, ‘we are living in a historical event’. Whilst some might want to avoid confrontation with this topical sort of content, this is one of the better pieces on the theme, because the performance is so fantastic and fun, and the material is so cleverly juxtaposed.

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