Priscilla Queen of the Desert, based on the 1994 hit movie of the same name, comes to the Edinburgh Playhouse. Its simple, feel good plot – two drag queens and a transsexual riding a big pink bus through the Australian bush – oozes flamboyant charm. The show is a camp riot through the wilderness, with a lot of heart.
The story begins with Tick/Mitzi revealing he is father to a son he has never met and decides to cross Australia to visit him. He rounds up his two friends and plans to perform a show at the casino where his wife’s works, whilst also getting to meet his son for the first time. Disco induced adventures ensue on the two week bus journey and new characters are revealed along the way.
Jason Donovan (Tick/Mitzi) and Adam Bailey (Adam/Felicia) give great layered performances. Donovan’s stardom shines brightly on stage among a plethora of other incredible shiny things. Edith Bouvier Beale once said “there is nothing worse than a staunch character”, but in the case of Simon Green (Bernadette), staunch is perfection. His impressive vocals are deserving of celebration and his characterisation of Bernadette is superb. It’s with her we get the heart of the show, and Simon Green absolutely nails it. A surprise cast member came in the form of comedienne, Karen Dunbar who was magnificent, hilarious and … busty!
Special mention must, of course, go to the costumes. Never anything but fabulous and clearly the highlight of the entire show. The set design leaves a lot to be desired. Okay, there’s not a lot you can do with the outback and a bus but the bus is a character in her own right, it could have matched up to the superb costumes. Disappointing considering the calibre of recent touring productions.
The show is overflowing with glitter, music and laughs but be warned: the Edinburgh Playhouse is not. The theatre is tired, paint is visibly peeling from the walls, the chairs are knackered and being admitted to the building is akin to entering a prison. You are stopped at the door by very rude staff who grab your belongings from you and confiscate bottles of Appletiser. When paying upwards of £50 a crumbling seat, you never expect to feel abused and robbed of liquids at the front door – you expect a level. The Edinburgh Playhouse claims to be “Broadway of Scotland”, it is more like Broadway’s sticky floor. Despite the disappointing venue, Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a very pleasant production with a highly talented cast. Recommended if you too are in search of camp!