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Fringe Review: Iconic: A Brief History of Drag

Presented by: Joe C Brown

When you go to see a performer in drag, you can be forgiven for expecting to see big hair, elaborate glamour outfits, and a full face of makeup beyond compare. This is the grandeur of drag, a complete and utter over emphasis of what makes a diva the queen that she is. Velma Celli had no wig, no outrageous outfit, and here’s why that was impressive.

Velma (Played by Ian Stroughair) sings her own songs. You’ll find no lip syncing here. Starting out with an impressive performance of Sugar Daddy by Hedwig and the Angry Inch that transports you straight to Broadway, Velma commands your attention immediately with her strong and dynamic vocal range.

She owns the stage and performs with a pizzaz that only a well seasoned stage performer can. With roles over the years in Cats, Fame, Chicago, and Rent, Velma shimmies and dances behind the microphone stand with the type of flawless vocals that is honed over years of performing night after night at the highest level.

The show was funny 'as f*&$' and will have you clapping like a seal and singing along with reckless abandon. Velma’s impersonations of Britney Spears, Tina Turner, Anastasia, Shakira, and Cher made for a thigh slapping diva mega mix and further showcased her impressive vocal capability.

You won’t be able to help yourself when it comes to audience participation, whether it be singing the chorus of David Bowie’s Starman, but only up to the word Sky, because history has shown her that the audience get a little less reliable after this point, getting the audience to whisper announce her Tranny Bible every time she picked it up to read an excerpt from it, and requisitioning her special male helper with only a look each time she needed to descend the stairs.

Stories were told of her visit to Stonewall in New York City and her conversation with an old bartender of how she came to be there, through to the impact people like David Bowie and Freddy Mercury had on the LGBT movement when being gay was still considered illegal. It was in these moments that Velma’s vulnerability shone through and the understanding of the sacrifices that were made so that she could be standing there on stage, became apparent.

Of course you cannot have a brief history of drag without a number from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and this was where Velma hit her straps. She descended from the stage (again glancing at her male audience member, mid song, for support) completely embodying Dr. Frank-N-Furter whilst rousing the audience to sing along with her rendition of Sweet Transvestite.

And the final climax, a Priscilla Queen of the Desert medley that had audience members singing and dancing in their seats.

Iconic: A Brief History or Drag fulfilled its mission to take the audience on a journey through drag whilst educating and delighting with trivia and stories that have spanned an impressive career to date.

Rating: ★★★★★

Venue:  Gluttony – Parasol Lounge

Season:  6th – 17th March, 2018

Duration:  60 minutes

Tickets:  Full Price: $26:50 Concession: $21:50


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