Review: Dragtime! Presents: Things That Go Bump N’ Grind In The Night

Thomas Idris Marquand 31 October 2019

The Dragtime! team have raised their game this Halloween with this hilarious and unapologetic extravaganza. If you read no further, go see this show! The Kings and Queens of Dragtime have further cemented their title as Cambridge’s “premiere Drag troupe” in a show that was just as fun, silly and spooky as promised.

This is a highly energetic and fast paced show punctuated by a strangely apologetic Griffin Twemlow (producer) who introduces our illustrious host and rounds off the show with a quick plug for the other exciting drag performances coming to Cambridge in the near future. The show is hosted by the enchanting Persephone Porcelain who got off to a bumpy start, commenting to awkward laughter about bad memories of Cambridge, but who otherwise maintained the energy and laughter throughout. Ms Porcelain’s homage to horror movie tropes was brilliantly choreographed and testament her acting talent while her pig routine was the only time the night really moved from spooky to scary.

Image credit: Mark Weich

The first solo performance of the show was a rollercoaster tour through the realm of pop culture references to hair conveyed through the talents Spartaca. This jocular and exciting first act was ample warm up for the ensuing madness and hilarity.

There were a number of particularly surreal moments throughout the show, including an unnerving reimagining of the Great British Bake Off by the hysterical Velvet Caveat featuring whipped cream and Caveat’s terrifying “fairy garden” and a deeply unusual but moving tribute to Katy Perry by the preeminent Charlene Collins who never fails to deliver a powerful (and, in this case, hilarious) performance.

Image credit: Lucia Revel-Chion

Drag King Chris presents a funny and thought-provoking twist on masculine stereotypes.

Chris’ physicality and characterisation were notably impressive, as if they were possessed by the ghost of toxic masculinity. Although I felt the performance had become repetitive by the end, I may have been alone in this assessment as the performance got near continuous chuckling from the audience.

The Facebook page for the show promised ‘burlesque’ which they certainly delivered in the performances of Miss Tryst who bravely sang live and King Hoberon who will make you wonder how so many dildos can be concealed in such scant costume. It was a shame that the pole dancing promised in the publicity for the show did not materialise although, if I hadn’t read their adverts, I wouldn’t have felt it was missing much.

Image credit: Laura Wells

It was very unfortunate that the show was interrupted by technical issues although Porcelain is particularly adept at improvising to fill the time. I hope they are able to fix these issues for their next two nights. It was especially sad that we couldn’t really hear the live singing during Persephone’s and Miss Tryst’s performances.

The show remained generally apolitical which felt like a missed opportunity (especially now there’s a general election imminent) although it is nice to take a break from Brexit every now and then. Porcelain touches at points on drag’s own identity crisis (regarding who can do drag and its commercialisation): this is a troupe that practises what they preach when they say “drag is for everyone”.

Overall, Dragtime! have put together an exciting, fun and spooky show which had us laughing throughout as we have come to expect of them.

It’s the perfect seasonal entertainment and unapologetically throws out the status quo. Find a way to see this show; the whooping and cheering of the audience throughout says it all!

4.5 stars.

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