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The Boys/Girls in the Band

There's no way we were ever not going to give this show five stars.

We’ve all seen them doing the usual rounds on the scene: Dave Lynn, Miss Jason, Lola Lasagne, Rose Garden, Titti La Camp, Lady La Rue and Sandra. Seven of the UK’s top drag performers and all legends in their own right.

But you’ve never seen them like this before.

The first half of the latest production at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, sees a condensed version of 1970s American drama The Boys in the Band. It’s a landmark gay play and is every bit as deliciously camp as you would expect, considering it’s directed by Christopher Biggins.

Set amidst an unruly house party, a mixed bag of room-mates, lovers, cowboy strippers and straight college friends gradually descend into merry gay hell as secrets are revealed and old relationships are dredged back to the surface. Interestingly, the overriding themes of love and acceptance are just as relevant today as they were back in the day… and frankly who can’t relate to drunk-dialing an ex or two?

Staged by the aforementioned drag queens - sans drag - the whole company turn out wonderfully characterised performances. (In spite of the fact that “trousers and flat shoes are so difficult to move in.”)

However, it’s after the interval that the theatre really comes alive, as the audience is treated to a swift succession of song, dance and comedy routines, well and truly worthy of the impressive stage on which they are being performed.

Billed as “The Girls in the Band” and hosted by the Grande Dame of drag, Maisie Trollette, this show once again features the same company of actors, now more recognisable as their familiar female counterparts.

Although more or less unrelated to the first half of the evening's entertainment, it’s undeniably fascinating to witness the glamorous transformations that have taken place within the quick thirty minute period while we were downing cocktails at the bar.

And honestly, we’ve never heard an audience cheer so loudly (or throw quite so many roses.)

Take it to Broadway and give ‘em a Tony.

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Until 31 August 2012 at the Theatre Royal, Brighton. Buy your tickets now!

Words: Stu Hurford

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