Culture critic Ruth Horsburgh is left disappointed by Son of a Preacher Man, a new jukebox musical based on the songs of Dusty Springfield.Written by Ruth Horsburgh on 14th September 2017
Review: ‘La Cage Aux Folles’
Charlotte Russell reviews this fierce and fabulous show, celebrating the world of Drag
“a musical celebrating everything wonderful that is drag culture
With Pride just around the corner Birmingham is readying itself for the celebrations ahead by opening up its doors to the fabulous La Cage Aux Folles. If you haven’t heard of it before La Cage Aux Folles is a musical celebrating everything wonderful that is drag culture. La Cage Aux Folles is gay. Very, inescapably and unmistakably gay. Proud and fabulous, this production is a celebration of one of the perhaps more sadly taboo parts of the LGBT+ sphere. Coming at a time where gender is an incredibly popular topic of discourse at the moment, La Cage Aux Folles proves that gender should be damned and we should all be able to present ourselves in any way we bloody well choose.
The production was superb. The dancing was amazing, and every single note was belted with so much passion. You didn’t just feel that the actors were performing a role, but instead believed that these roles empathised with their very own lives. Starring John Partridge – the famous Christian Clarke from Eastenders – as the gloriously decadent Albin turn drag superstar ZaZa, the whole theatre was blown away. Heck, he is such a multi-talented man, I’ve never seen anyone change so seamlessly from his albeit very (and intentionally) effeminate manner into the voice of a superstar.
“Gay or straight, La Cage Aux Folles is one of those stories that has the ability to resonate with whoever has seen it
Every single person in the audience gave this production a standing ovation. Gay or straight, La Cage Aux Folles is one of those stories that has the ability to resonate with whoever has seen it. The non-conforming track ‘I Am What I Am’ proves just that, take us or leave us, we all have the right to claim our own identity. The production is currently on at the Birmingham Hippodrome so you’ll either have to pass through the very gay part of town, past Gales, past Glam and confront yourself with the realities of a beautifully inclusive part of society - or alternatively you can pass by Ming Moon, the choice is yours. La Cage Aux Folles is rooted around this idea of inclusivity. The main couple Albin and George make small jokes about their son’s heterosexuality, but are still incredibly accepting of it and in turn the play revolves around his acceptance of their unorthodox family unit, when presenting his parents to his rather traditional soon-to-be in-laws.
“By breaking down the barriers of gender norms La Cage proves that men can be in touch with their feminine side and should be bloody proud of it
La Cage Aux Folles is not only wonderful in its production but cannot be missed for its very apparent Fuck-You to the patriarchy. By breaking down the barriers of gender norms La Cage proves that men can be in touch with their feminine side and should be bloody proud of it. You may roll your eyes at me and think it’s easy for me to say this, I mean these guys are on stage, they are being applauded for their outstanding performance, perhaps it’s all good and well for a professional performer to dress as they please. A good example of the gender imbalances that we still face are in the mere fact that I as a woman can go freely in town in a trouser suit and most people won’t bat an eyelid, but sadly in our bigoted and backwards world it’s not entirely equal for men. I know Jaden Smith has tried to make the skirt fashionable, but it hasn’t quite caught on – yet. However, the mere love which is explored by this non-conformist family throughout the show, and Jean-Michel’s adoration for his ‘mother’ Albin, proves that norms are there to be shattered.
La Cage Aux Folles is packed with glamour, amazing costumes and incredible dance numbers. Its celebration of all things drag and its incredible attention to detail will inevitably lead you to forget that these amazing women are in fact men. Let yourself be absorbed by this queer Moulin Rouge, armed with fake tits and hairspray this production is sure to blow you away. In the words of the great RuPaul: you’re born naked, and the rest is drag.