The plotters in action@never_laughs_photo

Dragtime is back and it does not disappoint! A spectacle of colours, glitter, joy and laughter, which had the audience ooh-ing and aah-ing much like the fireworks at the weekend. An erotic and playful celebration of queerness and performance, this is not one to be missed!

I am a Dragtime newbie, so wasn’t sure what to expect, but boy did I enjoy myself. From the moment I walked in, the audience was crackling with energy, the excitement in the air palpable. On stage, I was immediately struck by the sight of the huge scarlet box of dynamite (TNT) displaying the acronym ‘T4T’ in sparkly black glitter. The performers’ playful, creative and dynamic approach to this year’s theme – Guy Fawkes night – was truly ingenious. Humanities students in Cambridge like to talk a lot about ‘queering’ history, but never have I seen this done in such an entertaining, thought-provoking and exciting way.

“The performers’ playful, creative and dynamic approach to this year’s theme – Guy Fawkes night – was truly ingenious”

This theme – Gunpowder, Treason and ‘Thot’ – is particularly apt in the current climate of raging anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that dominates the halls of Westminster. In a show based on “blowing up”, or resisting parliament – the themes of homophobia, transphobia and oppression were dealt with in a sensitive, intriguing and nuanced way – in both song, poetry and crowd-work. In Charlene Collins’ haunting spoken word performance towards the end of the show, she utters a decisive ‘f*** Suella’. This show would indeed be Suella Braverman’s worst nightmare – and for that I can only applaud. This show was a triumph, an extravaganza of queer joy, performance and resistance. The two hosts, Charlene Collins and Magic Dyke, interacted with the audience with ease and comfort, generating a vibrant sense of reciprocity and community. Through wit, teasing and one particularly detailed sensual description of cheese fondue, they managed to create a sense of togetherness and collectivity that I have rarely experienced watching a show at the ADC.

“This show would indeed be Suella Braverman’s worst nightmare”

The range of technical skill and talent on the stage was beyond anything I have witnessed before on that stage; from Magic Dyke’s delicate and ethereal pole acrobatics, to La Bottomy’s beautiful psychedelic flow art; to Prince Charles’ powerful rendition of ‘Be prepared’ from The Lion King, including live fire-blowing. It is a pretty impressive feat to have gotten that past ADC management, so I congratulate the producers and K-M White’s stage management. I want to particularly applaud those performers for whom it was their debut drag performance on the ADC stage: Juno Watt, Bert I am a Cheerleader, Sexy Lady. They brought the dynamite to the stage – with erotic strip teases, voguing, cloak-ography - serving face the whole time. The lighting and costume were also to die for, with a nod to steampunk subculture in the endless cravats, leather boots and cloaks of the performers. The showcase was a whirling Catherine wheel of dancers, singers, circus acts and lip-syncers. My only criticism: much like fireworks, the energy fizzled out a little towards the end when the hosts got lost in a list of thank-yous, and the pace began to drag. However, this is likely an opening night issue, and despite this, the audience still appeared to be hanging on to every word.


Mountain View

5/11: A radical remix of post-modern punk and political anarchy

To me, this show exemplified what Cambridge theatre should be about. It should be about expression, joy, community, performance. Queerness here is presented as a form of freedom, where anyone, no matter their experience, or their background, can take part. It even made me want to be on stage doing drag, lip-syncing my heart out to Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’. Theatre is about creative collaboration, about community, about addressing wider problems through the medium of parody and satire. In a political climate of hatred towards those who transgress heteronormative societal ideals, performances like these are more important than ever. Queer joy is resistance, and this was clear in each and every act. So in the tradition of bonfire night, instead of “blowing up parliament” – I urge you all to get down to the ADC at 11pm, and partake in an act of resistance that requires little more than sitting in a seat and roaring with laughter. Not a bad way to spend your evening!