Review: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

The Divas - Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Paul Coltas
The Divas - Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Paul Coltas

Eastbourne shed its Jaeger skirts and pearls to rock up at the Congress Theatre in feather boas and metallic corsets earlier this year.

The event was the first night of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Musical - based on the cult MGM movie of the mid 1990s which won Terence Stamp four Best Actor awards.

I was there to preview the production which is scheduled to occupy the coveted Christmas run at the Theatre Royal, Brighton throughout December. Priscilla and Brighton will go together like, well let’s say Elton and David.

It’s going to be a wow - a total sensation.

The pretty, atmospheric theatre will prove the perfect setting for this outrageous, warm-hearted, spectacular musical...and I can’t wait to see how the Brighton audience will outdo the clutch of slightly staider Eastbourne theatre-goers.

Most people reading this will be familiar with the story so I won’t go on too long here.

Sufficient to say it’s a tale of a trio of drag queens who travel around the Australian outback in a battered bus.

Their aim? To find true love in whatever form it takes and overcome prejudice and hatred en route which, of course, they do in style.

In case you’re thinking sheep, eucalyptus and koalas, shift up a gear to 500 costumes, 200 hats, 100 wigs, 150 pairs of shoes and a mountain of mascara.

Team that with a full-scale neon bus, wall-to-wall show tunes, a finale involving every cast member dressed as an Australian mammal or bird and razor-sharp dialogue.

Example include: “Why do we put up with this abuse night after night? Because we are real women, that’s why,” and at Uluru: “I’m a **** in a frock on a rock” and so it goes on.

There’s a ‘to die for’ scene where an outback engineer’s diva-ish Oriental bride performs a sort of dance with the sort of acrobatic involvement of body parts that my dear, late Uncle remembered, and talked about in hushed tones, after his sojourn in Cairo during the war.

Although it’s not for your maiden aunt, (perhaps maiden aunts have changed today) I defy anyone to be offended or upset by what they see or hear on stage.

This is a joyous, glorious celebration of what it means to be alive.

The music is terrific too. Best reserve your seat now.

Priscilla - Queen of the Desert, The musical begins its run at the Theatre Royal, Brighton on December 18 and performances begin at 7.45pm Monday to Thursday; 5 and 8.15pm on Fridays, 2.30 and 7.45pm on Saturdays and 5pm on Sundays.