An outstanding singular performance by Peter Clements, that draws upon - yet uniquely embraces - the fine traditions of drag queen finesse, dark humour, sexual allure and celebration. Clements showcases the stories which must be told by the ageing dames of theatre and film in this stunning genre-busting play directed by Oliver Dawe about the outsider and the consequences of a life of exclusion.
Clements’ audience interaction is flawless.
Clements has finely crafted Frau Welt as instantly recognisable and yet utterly singular. As Clements’ face twists into a determinedly eerie, purposeful mask, one is reminded of a heady combination of Margaret Thatcher, Bette Davis and Jennifer Saunders … reminded, but only for a brief glimpse. There are additional references to Marlene Dietrich, and a foray into a professional rivalry and ‘friendship' with Angela Lansbury which serves as a mechanism to reveal the true inner soul of this otherwise precarious femme. Of course, Liza (Minelli) and Judy (Garland) help Frau to express her emotions - from heartbreak, to hope, to rage. These references to the greats of music and theatre are very fitting, as the story follows Frau Welt’s uninhibited ascension to the top of Broadway success, in which she will not be stopped.
Frau Welt’s tale is best told by Frau Welt herself; it was she who, after all, forged her destiny, despite (and in spite) of those who would ignore her. From heartbreak in 1930s Berlin, to fame in New York’s Broadway, Frau Welt wasn’t one to be satisfied with her lot.
Clements’ audience interaction is flawless, and serves to include us as a second character with whom she manipulates in an allegory of her dark yet victorious plot. Throughout the performance, we are gifted not only with a piece of polished theatre, we are also treated to constant comedy quips which serve to lighten the air in Welt’s murky ambition.
Without any spoilers, the conclusion of our journey with Frau Welt is one of the most triumphantly and celebratory queer this reviewer has ever experienced. Despite her malevolence, we all left the theatre deeply devoted to the experience and memory of Frau Welt. Her name will be remembered.