Theatre Review: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - Edinburgh Playhouse ✭✭✭✭

Photo by Paul Coltas

Review by Mhairi Greer

As the excited audience gathered at the Edinburgh Playhouse for the opening of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, with many sporting their very own feather boas and sequinned attire, they clearly knew they were in for a real treat as the show began with It's Raining Men sung by the three heavenly Divas, Emma Kingston, Ellie Leah and Laura Mansell.  

Photo by Paul Coltas
On the surface, Priscilla Queen of the Desert follows a simple narrative about three drag queens and their journey across the outback of Australia, which is filled with high heels, false eye lashes and sequinned covered dresses, along with their love for Kylie Minogue.

The trio worked brilliantly together with Tick (Jason Donovan), who was welcomed on stage with a cheer by the audience, former Les Girl, Bernadette (Richard Grieve) and Adam (Graham Weaver). Grieve captured the class and wisdom of Bernadette, who eventually finds love with Bob (Giles Watling), both of which the audience warmed to. Weaver injects energy and demonstrates powerful vocals throughout the show, particularly during Hot Stuff.

The dialogue is fast paced and witty with some crude one liners, which fit in well with the show. The characters of Miss Understanding (Alan Hunter), Shirley (Ellie Leah) and Cynthia (Frances Mayli McCann) add real comedy. As well as comedy, the show does explore issues surrounding prejudices towards homosexuality and those who are different, which is captured in the characters and many of the songs, including True Colours.
Photo by Paul Coltas
Although some of the song choices are predictable, it is a great mix of disco and classic songs which complement the show and the audience seem to enjoy. Despite Felicia’s powerful performance of Follie! Delirio Vano E Questo! Sempre Libera, the production of it didn’t work, compared with the film, and it seemed a bit out of context.

With 500 costumes, 100 wigs and 150 pairs of shoes, the shows award-winning costumes are absolutely amazing. The lavish costumes are a main focal point, particularly during Colour my World, The Floor Show Medley and the Finale Medley, where the cast are dressed as an array of colourful animals.

At the beginning of Act Two, there was a technical error and a disruption to the show as the cast needed to leave the stage and the safety curtain was drawn. The performance was quickly restored, with only a few minutes delay, and the cast recovered efficiently and carried on. 

Priscilla Queen of the Desert is an outrageously flamboyant and brilliant show filled with strong vocals, big hair and outstanding costumes that make it a fabulous night out.

4 stars ✭✭✭✭

Priscilla Queen of the Desert is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until 9th March.