A Brief History of Drag
Presented by Lambert Jackson
Performed by Ian Stroughair
Review by Ron Lee, CSP
On my way to A Brief History of Drag, I suddenly realised that I might be about to see a man overly made up, lip syncing to Pink, Shakira, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Cher, Whitney Houston and the inevitable Shirley Bassey, but no, the show involves real singing.
Drag queens usually adopt bad pun (excuse the tautology) names such as Ava Lanche, Sham Payne, Hedda Lettuce, Eva Destruction, Anne Phetamine, Avery Goodlay, Farrah Moan, Cher Noble, Anna Conda, Juana Bang, Chan Di Lear, Della Catessan, Kitten Kaboodle, Sofonda Cox, Wilma Ballsdrop, Crystal DeCanter, Tess Tosterone, Anna Rexia and of course, Ivana Kutchakockoff.
In A Brief History of Drag, the drag queen’s name follows that time-honoured tradition. Velma Celli is played by Ian Stroughair who comes from the north of England and has had roles in a multitude of West End musicals such as Cats, Fame, Chicago, What A Feeling and Rent.
Yes, he does the impressions as expected, some of which I didn’t recognise. His stage makeup could be clearly seen by everyone in an auditorium of two thousand, and the music was loud enough for a room of that size, but it took place in a small space that holds about seventy.
Add a bit of audience involvement and you have a compelling show more like a chat with a few friends and a lot of music.
The show is not so much a history lesson as a vehicle for Stroughair to showcase his amazing vocal talent.