Edinburgh-raised drag queen Ripley makes his Fringe debut this year with Like A Sturgeon. This is a perfect drag homage to some of the world’s leading females in politics. The show is perfectly lip-synced to an array of popular music, as well as Ripley’s own original lyrics. From Madonna to Katy Perry, there is definitely something for every taste in the audience. Ripley’s own lyrics are clever and funny, offering the perfect comment on tumultuous UK and US political events.
The perfect mash-up of drag, political satire, catchy music and entertainment
The British Prime Minister opens the show; clad in leather trousers, and with a naughty smirk on her face. Ripley’s portrayal of Theresa May is an utter delight to watch. May’s facial expressions and accent are spot on in this caricature, and Ripley’s political observations on Brexit, foreign policy and national politics throughout the performance are subtle enough to remain light-hearted, whilst clever and witty enough to ignite passion in the audience.
Unfortunately Ripley’s next character, a doe-eyed Melania Trump, doesn’t quite bring the same charisma to the audience and is much duller in comparison to the fiery May. Melania’s character is a difficult one to flesh out – in comparison to May and Sturgeon, there isn’t as much to play with and the repetitive digs at her gold-digging lifestyle and disgust for husband Donald make her too one-dimensional for the audience to really invest in. With so much potential material in the UK’s PM and Scotland’s First Minister, Melania was a pale choice in comparison.
However, Ripley’s triumphant and patriotic caricature of Scotland’s First Minister truly does make up for Melania’s downfalls. I think that Nicola Sturgeon herself would find Ripley’s take on the SNP’s leader absolutely hilarious. The act stays on the right side of funny, poking fun at various SNP policies but never taking things too far. That is where the true talent of Ripley’s drag lies in this show, knowing her audience well enough to take iconic leading female characters in politics – some more popular than others… – and expose their worst traits with humour but without being too offensive.
Ripley’s characters have clearly been perfected over many performances and a lot of hard work and writing has gone into this show. There are notable cameos from other political hard-hitters, such as the DUP’s Arlene Foster and Ivanka Trump, who are shown in music-video-style clips in-between Ripley’s impressively quick character changes. Whilst these are entertaining, it is difficult to keep an audience enraptured when your host is constantly leaving the stage. Like A Sturgeon would have benefitted from more engaging material in between character changes, or focusing on just May or Sturgeon for the entire performance.
Regardless of the lulls between some of Ripley’s characters, Like A Sturgeon is the perfect mash-up of drag, political satire, catchy music and entertainment that will leave you with Madonna and SNP chants stuck in your head all week…