It shouldn’t take long for you to notice that despite his name, Alfie Ordinary is as far from the boy next door as you’re likely to get. There he stands at the beginning of this one-man show: dazzlingly sequined from head (platinum bowl-cut) to toe (sparkling shoes). Yet the unique strength of
One for anyone who’s ever felt as small as a tiny sequin on Aretha Franklin’s biggest dress
The son of a drag queen, Alfie is a drag prince – albeit one with a shameful passion for football. As a young boy, he attends Madame LeCoq's Preparatory School For Fabulous Boys, an institution where individuality and flamboyance are nurtured and celebrated. Despite the fact this school begins each week with a rousing rendition of ‘I Am What I Am’, Alfie’s schoolmate John can’t help but feel the pressure of growing up fabulous in a heteronormative world.
Alfie takes it upon himself to guide John through the tribulations of growing up with familial pressure, a homophobic society, and internalised shame. Threaded throughout the narrative are reminders of the artifice at work here; in an especially sobering moment, a voice-over informs us that Alfie is a figment of John’s imagination, as nobody that fabulous could exist in our current world. It’s an intrusion, but one that bolsters the piece as a whole. Fantasies are necessary tools in a hostile world and the show is stronger for acknowledging it. And, of course, Alfie does exist, at least in the magical space created by the show and maintained by us as an audience.
All this, and I haven’t even mentioned the thrilling cameos from Whitney Houston and Bette Midler, the hilariously-convoluted analogy made between the offside rule and shoe-shopping, or the many songs Alfie sings to us from his keyboard, somehow managing to breathe life into over-familiar pop songs from The Village People and Sugababes.
The show is a subtle call to arms to be as individual, kind and curious as the performer on stage – and to hopefully look as good as he does in the process. One for anyone who’s ever felt ‘as small as a tiny sequin on Aretha Franklin’s biggest dress’ and wanted to feel that little bit bigger.