La Cage Aux Folles – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By Ginger Bailey, July 2017
“Open your eyes, for you have arrived at La Cage Aux Folles,” declares Georges (Adrian Zmed), the owner of the illustrious birdcage of fun and frolics. And sure enough, keep those peepers open for we are in for a treat: sparkly sequins, high-kicking long-legged dancers, shimmering sexy singers. I nearly leap out of my seat to join them in their opening number, ‘We Are What We Are’.
Unfortunately, I have a job to do – to review this performance – so I stay where I am, mesmerised by the glitz and glamour of the people of St Tropez and this naughty nightclub. We are introduced to Georges’ long term partner, Albin, AKA Zsa Zsa and the indisputable star of the show, played by the well-cast John Partridge. An unashamedly Yorkshire camp man, sounding not dissimilar to one of Reece Shearsmith’s younger female characters in The League of Gentlemen. A Yorkshire drag queen in St Tropez, the star of the show. Even my hubby, having been dragged along (no pun intended), is impressed.
“Cutting put downs”
Now, I admit, I have no idea how to pronounce the name of the show, despite having a GCSE in French, nor do I know what it means. A quick look on Google to discover how to pronounce it brings up a video of the leather-faced George Hamilton being interviewed for what, I assume, is to promote his version of La Cage aux Folles. Please don’t watch it – it is boring and (thanks Google!) he doesn’t mention the title of the play. I wish I hadn’t bothered or worried because Georges (the character, not Mr Hamilton), as I mentioned, tells us how to pronounce it in the opening scene. Phew! That stops me obsessing over it for the rest of the show.
Meanwhile, back to the action on stage. We have Jean-Michele (Dougie Carter), son of Georges, turn up, to announce that he is getting married, to – shock of all shocks – a woman. Sacré bleu (see my GCSE in French was not wasted). But wait for it, his beloved, Anne (Alexandra Robinson) is the daughter of the ultra conservative politician Dindon and Jean-Michele wants his openly homosexual dad to meet her anti-gay right wing parents and to pretend that he isn’t gay. What could possibly go wrong?
Cue Albin understandably getting upset at being told he isn’t welcome, Georges trying to persuade Jean-Michele to invite Albin to the meeting, the maid/butler burning the dinner – and we have a delightful comedy on our hands. I won’t spoil the ending, but lets just say that the right ain’t right.
The star or the show is undoubtedly John Partridge. Shortly before the interval, in a scene where he is resplendent as Zsa Zsa on stage at La Cage Aux Folles, we see him interacting with us, as one would in an actual drag club, teasing the musicians, the other characters on stage and the audience, sarcastically telling us: “It’s great when the audience really makes an effort.” He asks one women if her outfit was from Per Una (to Zsa Zsa’s delight the audience member says “Yes!”). He unleashes cutting put downs which garner whoops from the audience. If only I’d managed to write them all down!
Go see ‘La Cage’. You’ll laugh, clap and be entertained. Maybe I wanted more of a showstopper from the last number – but the rest of the play more than makes up for it.
Anyhow if you want me, I’ll be at the next drag act in town. Me and the hubby are hooked.