Priscilla Queen of the Desert

It’s impossible to miss the irony in the name of the production company behind Priscilla: Queen of the Desert – Car Crash Productions. The show was, in short, poorly-directed, messy and under-rehearsed, and I have rarely spent a musical laughing so hard for all the wrong reasons.

the comedy here came from misjudged comic timing, poor dance routines and innumerable slip-ups

The Broadway jukebox musical is a joy-filled two-hour romp, following two Australian drag queens and a transgender woman who take a camper van ‘Priscilla’ through the outback to perform in the town of Alice Springs. The problems and setbacks they encounter along the way should account for a lot of laughs, but instead the comedy here came from misjudged comic timing, poor dance routines and innumerable technical, visual and vocal slip-ups.

The set did not use the space well and changes were poorly timed and badly organised, despite the near constant presence on stage of two stage-hands who looked like they had had enough of the whole business. Seated at the back next to a frantic technician and production team, I was especially privy to the moments where microphones failed to turn on, sound levels were off and where sound and light cues came in at the wrong time. The cast was small, but I still could have done without the chorus, whose harmonies and choreography were rarely correct.

The three main actors could, just about, hold a tune between them and provide a few laughs and even a few well-timed improvisations when things went wrong. Gwyllym Hunter as Bernadette has a good deadpan expression and worthy of mention is Tommy Campbell who was the most talented singer and dancer, and often saved his fellow cast from total chaos. Overall, however, even the charms of these three were outweighed by their failures.

There are amateur theatre groups that could and would have provided far better performances under similar budgets, rehearsal times and space. The second star (in the rating) comes not from quality of the production, but is instead a credit to just how much fun I had. The cast and audience seemed to be in on the joke of how much of a disaster this musical really was and no-one really seemed to mind. As a result, I had two wonderful, hilarious and incredibly memorable hours. I would not recommend it to anyone wanting to see good musical theatre, but go with some drinks and friends and I dare you not to have a fun time.

Reviews by Elliot Douglas


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The Blurb

The much loved colourful extravaganza of a show come to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time from the company behind 2016's sell-out American Idiot. Join Tick, Felicia and Bernadette on their travels across Australia in the world's most camp bus: Priscilla! Set to classic anthems such as Such as It's Raining Men, Hot Stuff, True Colours, Go West and I Will Survive this is a guaranteed party night out that packs an emotional punch. Not to be missed!