REVIEW: Drag girlgroup DENIM bring polished chaos to the Soho Theatre

RATING: *****

“HELLO WEMBLEY!” yells Glamrou breathlessly, bejewelled bikini glistening as she gazes out at a happily tipsy crowd at the charmingly boutique, not-at-all-Wembleyish Soho Theatre. At the back, someone keeps whooping and whistling. “Must be a dog walker” she says, grinning and teasing a stray strand of wig away from her eyes.

The characters created by the five sparklingly accomplished drag performers who make up DENIM, have all the necessary components of a world-famous girlband; insecurities, in-fights and delusions of grandeur. As each get their turn to do a solo number, it’s a delight to watch their personalities and various narcotic-infused neuroses shine through.

Shirley is a blonde-beehived Stepford Wife, with a penchant for exercise routines and homicide. There’s something sweet, but also downright terrifying about Shirley and her glazed stare. It’s like if Betty Draper finally SNAPPED. You certainly wouldn’t want to run into her in the ladies toilets of the golf club.

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Then there’s razor-cheekboned and entrancingly watchable Aphrodite, who slouches around the stage like Nicollette Sheridan after a bump of ketamine. Her oleaginous, wonderfully unstable drawl would make Daryl Hannah chuck everything into an overnight bag and move to Malibu.

Next up was Crystal, who had flawless comedic timing and an even more flawless falsetto voice. Her rendition of the Cell Block Tango was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. “It wasn’t until I was pulverising her body in my Nutribullet that I even realised she was DEAD.”

A personal highlight was blue-wigged rock chick Electra. Her character was a wonderfully bizarre mix of bougie North London liberal rich girl, and misunderstood goth, and it worked perfectly. I’ve also never seen someone make a pair of broken sunglasses so hilarious.

And of course, Muslim drag sensation Glamrou shimmered in her role as host. There’s a lot of dialogue nowadays, mostly in the bowels of East London, about how people are being, like, totes subversive and “breaking the boundaries of drag”. Everyone seems to be breaking the boundaries of drag at the moment. But Glamrou actually, really DOES break boundaries, truly and bravely.

In fact, the whole group come together to create something joyful and unique. It’s hard to describe – it’s somehow both totally polished and a complete mess. But I think the most special thing about it is that you can tell they’re all having an absolute fucking blast. Which, without being too Disney about it, is the most important thing.

DENIM: World Tour is at the Soho Theatre until 3rd February. More info and tickets here.

 

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