Wednesday 24 May 2017

Review: La Cage Aux Folles at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre

La Cage Aux Folles, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin.

Image: La Cage Aux Folles/Pamela Raith Photography
Image: La Cage Aux Folles/Pamela Raith Photography
Image: La Cage Aux Folles/Pamela Raith Photography

Katy Hayes

Bill Kenwright presents this new UK production of the Riviera-set showbiz romp, hitting Dublin early in its tour.

Gay man Georges and his transvestite, possibly transgender, partner Albin have raised George’s son Jean-Michele as a couple. The son wants to get married and to introduce his fiancée’s ultra-conservative parents to his family. He demands that Albin be banished from proceedings, and his estranged biological mother be produced. Albin, who has been a mother to Michel all his life, is deeply hurt and has the songs to prove it.

What ensues is a farce with a serious core. This battle between the forces of conservatism and liberalism feels like it is on a forever revival loop in the real world as well as on the stage.

The chorus is all men in drag, doing traditionally female dances, including an ostrich-feather fan routine and a balletic can-can. Much mirth is to be found in the various constructed gender-behaviours, as when John Wayne is invoked as a tool to teach manliness.

Image: La Cage Aux Folles/Pamela Raith Photography
Image: La Cage Aux Folles/Pamela Raith Photography

John Partridge, best known from Eastenders, plays Albin as a complex male/female hybrid. Feminine when at home, in his drag act as Zaza he skillfully pumps up the audience with a masculine energy. Adrian Zmed, of T.J. Hooker fame, delivers a winning Georges. Both leads create performances with an informal air and pack a strong emotional punch.

Excellent design by Gary McCann uses a versatile proscenium shape, a dominant peacock motif as well as plenty of red velour and gold fringe.

Some audio problems with a mic on opening night provided a minor glitch in the otherwise glittering high-energy hilarity.

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