Review: Uplifting show has so much to savour

Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Norwich Theatre Royal

It's camper than a row of tents at Glastonbury but considerably more pleasurable (I just can't take portable toilets now I'm over 25). The story involves three drag queens singing, dancing and arguing their way across Australia in this fantastic stage adaptation of Stephan Elliott's cult 1994 film – and it is fantastic, particularly Jason Donovan as Tick, a complex character with an alter ego: Mitzi Mitosis. Donovan – who I have a particular soft spot for after interviewing several months ago – shines in this production which is all about acceptance, tolerance and bell-bottomed, platform-heeled onesies. He's joined on stage by the hugely impressive Richard Grieve (the elegant Bernadette) and Graham Weaver as the permanently petulant Kylie obsessive, Felicia. Honourable mentions also go to Giles Watling as gentle Bob and Alan Hunter as the wonderful Miss Understanding. If you're easily offended – I'm really not: I could out-swear a trooper – the constant references to particular parts of the human anatomy could cause you to spend the entire show a livid shade of pink, which brings me to the transport, Barbie bus Priscilla. If only all buses were like Priscilla. There are mermaids and red necks, moonlit duets and operatic angels, high-kicking cupcakes, musical funerals and the kind of disco soundtrack that leaves you with enough ear worms to aerate an entire garden. I think it'd be impossible to leave this show without feeling uplifted – and if disco, glitz, glam, astonishing costumes, an amazing ensemble and blue jokes aren't enough for you, try the incredibly touching scene where Tick's six-year-old son (Harry Burns) accepts him for who he is in a heartbeat. Beautiful. Jason Donovan's Australian accent is fantastic, by the way. Funny, that.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert is at the Theatre Royal until December 7. To book tickets, call 01603 630000.


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