Bristol Theatre News

Review of Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Bristol Hippodrome – Review 2016

Our Verdict: Undoubtedly one of the best shows you will see at The Bristol Hippodrome this year

Our Rating: 10/10

Three cocks in frocks on a rock was a beautiful thing, as outstanding musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert rocked to a close at the Bristol Hippodrome this evening.

And what a marvellous performance it was. Rarely do musicals tour as well as this one, maintaining its original high production values, fresh cast and staggeringly large wardrobe, not to mention a life sized disco bus.

Straight away the show sets out its cart. Essential gay club floor fillers pack the rousing overture and all lit by the twinkling light of a million disco balls.

Priscilla 9597 Photo by Paul Coltas
The show is based on a somewhat unique road movie adventure, featuring a cross dresser who travels across the Australian outback by bus.

He’s been hired by his wife to perform in her casino and meet his six year old son for the first time. Joining him for the ride is his cross dressing friend Felicia and classy transsexual Bernadette.

Of course, it’s also a metaphorical journey for the characters partying their way along. They encounter homophobia, even more homophobia and a heart warming love story develops between Bernadette and Philip Childs as mechanic Bob.

However, the real joy of the story development is seeing the close friendship blossom between the three leads as they move from catty bitching to supportive family unit.

The top trio are brilliantly cast, working fabulously together. The action, one liners and caustic gay wit doesn’t stop throughout the show. Priscilla could so easily become a tired camp stereo type. But it’s the attention to detail in the characterisation that makes the audience laugh along with the characters and never at them.

Priscilla 1049 Photo by Paul Coltas HI RES

Man of the Match for us is Adam Bailey. He nails the role of Adam/Felicia, a young sassy cross dressing energetic beauty that cannot sit still. Amidst the party hard frenzy and chaos he creates, he also shows his vulnerability and by the end of the show would absolutely make The Best Auntie Felicia.

Duncan James took the role of Tick/Mitzi in this performance. The band Blue he was once part of completely bypassed my youth. So going solely on the merit of his performance it was a good one. He box ticked all the requirements of the role. This ranged from looking hot in skimpy women’s clothing through to his surprisingly good rendition of MacArthur Park.

And finally, make way for the class. Oozing the charm as the ultimate misty-eyed middle class transsexual, Simon Green not only literally kicked arse, he did it with style.

The three are backed throughout the performance by an enthusiastic cast, some of which spend much of the show dangling from the flies.

Also watch out for Julie Yammanee as Cynthia in her cringingly brilliant pink pong ball scene.

There must be a large, silent army of wardrobe, wigs assistants and dressers in the wings to deal with Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner’s outlandish costumes which take on a life of their own.

You don’t have to be a fan of or have even seen the hit 90’s movie to enjoy this show. But you do have to be quite sporting about the content if it’s not your usual cup of tea. It’s not cut from the same cloth, or even in the same shop, in fact not even in the same locality as other West End shows. But it’s a good one. A really good one. Funny, engaging, visual, foot tapping and uplifting. Seriously, what more could you want?

The show is recommended for people aged 15 years and over. If you are a fairly open minded family, younger children will enjoy the show. But be warned. There’s lots of swearing (no C word), sexual terms and some prejudicial language used in appropriate context that you won’t want repeated in the playground.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 11 June 2016