The latest endeavour of comic singer songwriter Lou Wall, Lou Wall’s Drag Raceis not your ordinary fringe show. It is a glitzy, spoofy, non-binary drag fringe show, and is not to be confused with the Ru Paul created cess pool of cis white men, something which so many of us have come to identify with the art of drag. This racially diverse, intersectional and cross gender show is everything drag should be. The performance is atypical in ways beyond casting, with the whole show revolving around how these queens can band together to dismantle the patriarchy.
Although you may be wondering how five diverse queens can dismember the man made oppressions of society in a mere fifty five minutes, I can assure you it can be done. Through body positivity, performance art and song, it is joyous to watch this art form being used for more than just light entertainment.
This really is an ensemble piece, with a minimalistic set design ensuring swift segues between individual acts and group scenes. The audience never tires of any particular queen’s style, as there is so much individuality within the performances. No one will walk away feeling their personal drag cravings have not been satisfied. Cop A Feel’s (Alex Thew) traditional style standup contrasts beautifully against Bailee-rose’s (Bailee-rose Farnham) sultry solos as she sashays and gyrates her way around the stage. Similarly, a variety of makeup and costuming approaches means that although everyone’s individual styles are represented, they make a fierce tableaux when together on stage.
The choreography is dynamic and exciting, however, the staging is unfortunately not conducive to anything above (?) ground level. Any dancing on the floor is invisible to anyone sitting beyond the first two rows. While we knew spectacular moves must be happening, judging from the squeals of delight emanating from the front row, the rest of us could only imagine what must be going down. Despite this, the dancing that was visible included both traditional and fresh elements, lifts, twirls and, of course, death drops.
However, some of this choreography and lip syncing is definitely in need of more rehearsal to get it completely polished. During some solos performers were left looking lost on stage when forgotten sound effects went off, or struggled to keep up with a quickly rapped lip sync. The ensemble scenes are far tighter overall, and demonstrate the skilled, synchronised potential of the queens.
Despite this being a piece of beautiful ensemble work, it really is Lou Wall’s drag race. She is a powerful presence on stage, with her commitment to all aspects of her physicality and facial expressions rendering her a mesmerising figure to watch. Her original songs strike the perfect balance between hilarity and affecting, as she pairs clever lyrics with catchy music. Using humour laced with truth she creates a link between drag and the oppressive rulings of the patriarchy, ensuring the show never loses its grip on its higher purpose. Wall holds the show together, and it is glorious to watch.
This piece encapsulates all that drag should be. Regardless of previous exposure to the art form, this show is guaranteed to excite and delight. Whether you’re a drag fanatic or just looking for fringe recommendations, Lou Wall’s Drag Race should definitely be on your list.
Lou Wall’s Drag Race runs from the 22nd – 29th of September at the Lithuanian Club.