Cabaret Festival

Cabaret Festival Review: Brag Drunch

Brag Drunch is a unique and creative collaboration between the talented Adelaide drag community and the progressive Post Dining creative company

Brag Drunch is a unique and creative collaboration between the talented Adelaide drag community and the progressive Post Dining creative company

Presented by: Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed: 18 June, 2023

Join both talented local drag performers and the award-winning multi-sensory design company Post Dining for an entertainingly educational and celebratory journey through the history of drag (with additional culinary elements), which is especially crucial in a time when the art of drag is being unjustly crucified, and unfounded hatred is running rampant.

Welcome to the ‘House of Drag’ – a space to not only celebrate the artistic practice of drag that allows for creative queer expression, is a platform for self-empowerment, and a space for subverting the mainstream, but where you can also learn about its extensive and fascinating ‘dragstory’ (drag-history). The show’s hosts, artistic director of Post Dining Steph Daughtry and local drag performer Arran Beattie aka. Marion Westfield, explain that their choice of creating a drag brunch show is a reclamation of the now highly commercialised event seen primarily for financial gain and as a marketing ploy. They wanted to instead utilise its platform to not only entertain, but to also value education at the same time, reengaging with its original empowering roots while utilising the varied talent of local drag performers.

This culinary-assisted journey through drag history is expansive but digestible, from the spicy beginnings of drag, such as when men playing women on stage – like in famed William Shakespeare productions – was the norm, to the pivotal Stonewall Riots in America, and the impressive queer community reactions to prominent homophobic, conservative figure-heads (think The Sister’s Perpetual of Indulgence and the giant Fred Niles head on a float). While history lessons can be rather dull, this is not the case with Brag Drunch with different sections performed by different drag performers, each uniquely making that section their own through their drag persona. The show’s use of the more intimate cabaret-table seating and food and drink elements also create a space where people are receptive to engaging in learning and understanding, like a comfortable dinner party at a friend’s place filled with fascinating conversation and information.

Kris del Vayze, an internationally award-winning Adelaide Drag Queen who has been proudly on the scene since 1984, delivers an emotional heart-string-pulling speech, engagingly describing a history that has partially been personally experienced. A bonus addition to her powerful words is watching her perform a short routine to Meghan Trainor’s pop-hit Mother in which she oozes confidence and an impressive professionalism that is simply on another level.

It was disappointing that the First Nations Drag Queen Estelle wasn’t able to close the show by performing live, but her virtual presence is due to great interstate work opportunities, which is exactly what is to be achieved from the show – the inclusion and success of drag performers! The energy from her attention-commanding routine, with vigorous dance moves to Electric Field’s 2000 and Whatever and a powerful spoken-word interlude, were still highly effective through the large screen anyway. Estelle unflinchingly highlights the important intersection between two minorities in Australia, reinforcing the strong allyship that we must to reduce discrimination and instead achieve not only an acceptance, but celebration of our differences.

Some consumable elements, like the memorable ‘Anita Bryant’ cocktail, are impressively historically linked, but others do lead to some confusion. A supplied QR code leads to a webpage which explains the menu in more (humorous) detail, but unfortunately this wasn’t communicated effectively, resulting in a gap between the paired courses and performers. This can be easily remedied through, whether it be with physical menus on the table, a reminder to scan the QR code when dishes come out, or a more detailed explanation from the performers on-stage at the time. There are some other elements to the show that could also use some workshopping, and times where scripted lines feel uncomfortable and lyrics in songs are bungled, but these are easily fixable and can be unsurprising in a brand new show.

With some workshopping, and perhaps a bit more rehearsal, Brag Drunch has the exciting potential to become a crucially effective theatrical creation of not only entertainment, but also important education with its clever use of utilising multiple senses. This clever collaboration between the talented Adelaide drag community and the progressive Post Dining creative company is one the audience is sure to look forward to experiencing again in the future as it has huge potential, but a version that is slightly more polished.

Reviewed by Georgina Smerd

Photo credit: Supplied

Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: Ended
Duration: 1 hour

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