Review: Queer Cabaret

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“A perfect show ladies, gentleman and all that lies betwixt!” declares Eli Fuller, the excellent compere, dolled up in drag, for Durham University Performing Arts and Durham Student Theatre’s production of Queer Cabaret. Featuring a plethora of creative performances from poetry to stand-up, singing to magic, this show reflects all the ways to understand queerness in the modern world from different creative lenses.

Bringing the show together, Fuller’s comedic performances act as a clever thread between acts. Their strong drag look demonstrates unapologetic queer pride, mirrored by the bright rainbow lighting featured during their appearances. The soap opera drama of their character’s love life adds a light, yet confident, tone to the show and emphasises the themes of celebrating queerness and queer relationships which perpetuate the acts.

Featuring a plethora of creative performances from poetry to stand-up, singing to magic, this show reflects all the ways to understand queerness in the modern world from different creative lenses

Continuing in the line of hilarity, displays a poised stand-up comedy performance, their excellent stage presence drawing in plenty of audience laughter. Cleverly balancing the tension between the fragility of existing as a queer person in society and the joy of authentic self-expression, they explore the humour of everyday experiences from a queer lens.

Queer self-expression is the centre of the evening’s dance performances with Mary’s Dance presenting a stand-out performance to a medley of queer anthems. The combination of their garish pink trousers, eye-catching patterns and suggestive choreography is an unapologetic assertion of queer joy. demonstrates great artistic versatility performing in solo tap and duo musical theatre-style dance acts and rocking bright, knee-high, rainbow socks, stealing the show for best costume.

In contrast, the poetic trio of Freya Cook, and provide a more serious act in this cabaret show, their powerful words moving the audience to a hushed reverence. A darkened stage combines with low red light links to the themes of the poems. Reflecting on queer relationships and what love means, the three made great use of the multi-level set design (left behind from previous productions of I, Joan!) sitting on the different levels creating a community atmosphere.

Queer self-expression is the centre of the evening’s dance performances with Mary’s Dance presenting a stand-out performance to a medley of queer anthems

Self-proclaimed sorceress brings something different to the show with a magic act featuring card tricks. Her impressive stage presence draws out audience enthusiasm and although the final trick did not completely succeed she still excited an impressed intake of breath from the auditorium. Choosing tricks which require the audience to analyse their own personality cleverly ties into the themes of self-understanding expressed throughout the other acts.

Classic cabaret acts from some brilliant singers also made an appearance including the brilliant live music duo of and on guitar and vocals. The equally stunning voices of and contributed to a strong end to the show involving a mixture of songs from reflective and powerful to a humorous rendition of ‘I’m Just Ken’ from the Barbie film.

Queer Cabaret is performed in aid of Humankind, a charity that works with young, LGBTQ+ people in the North East, helping them to understand their identity and to explain what this means to others in their life. More information on Humankind can be found here.

Image Credit: Durham Student Theatre

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