Once almost consigned to the dustbin of light entertainment, has there ever been a better time for drag?
From the cult of Jonny Woo to popular nights like Sink the Pink and Duckie at the saved-for-the-nation Royal Vauxhall Tavern, it's massively on the up — largely fuelled by the 'realness' served by Ru Paul’s Drag Race which has legitimized cross dressing for a generation who never knew Danny La Rue.
We hope soon to share Andrew Lloyd Webber’s plans for the St James’s Theatre he acquired last year, but in the meantime, inventive programming rules and the St James's Studio announces Drag Week from 1-5 November. We think it's delicious that you can enjoy classy drag with a decent cocktail and without actually sticking to a linoleum floor.
Denim is a professional drag troupe who met at Cambridge — now that would be a great episode of University Challenge, Paxo — founded in 2010 by Baghdad-born Amrou Al-Kadhi and with a twisted line in vocals and chat as singers actors and comedians (if with rather sub-PhD drag names like Crystal Vaginova and Shirley du Naughty).
There's a solo night of gender-bending love songs on 3 November, with androgynous mezzo-soprano Jessica Walker — who actually does have a PhD — and the week climaxes (yes we've done all the jokes in the office) with West End star Ian Stroughair's alter ego Velma Celli hosting a variety show mixing live acts with screen archive.
For 30 years, Hinge and Bracket were a staple of the comedy circuit and at the BBC where their TV and radio shows normalized drag and won them legions of fans. After the death of Patrick Fyffe (Dame Hilda) in 2002, George Logan retired Dr Evadne Hinge to a bijou bed and breakfast in rural France.
Now she’s announced a return to the stage — at what would be 96 if you follow the character’s biography — in The Dowager’s Oyster, a cod 1920s murder mystery styled as an operetta which had a bumpy ride from the critics at the Arcola's Grimeborn festival in August, but which has been refreshed to reflect Dr Evadne's undoubted musical talents.
Tickets for all St James's Drag Week shows (£20-£25) can be found on the theatre website, and the Dowager's Oyster runs from 22-26 November in the intimate setting of the So and So Arts Club in EC2. Tickets (£25) here.