Home » Reviews » Alternative » Prom Kween, Underbelly Cowgate – Review
Credit: Max Lacome
Credit: Max Lacome

Prom Kween, Underbelly Cowgate – Review

Pros: Songs, writing, costumes – pretty much everything.

Cons: Lots of restricted view seats.

Pros: Songs, writing, costumes – pretty much everything. Cons: Lots of restricted view seats. By the time I saw Prom Kween a little over a week after opening night, it was already being billed as a Fringe highlight, selling out every performance. It has since won a coveted Stage Edinburgh award. The people sitting beside me had already seen the show twice each (which is why they got in early enough to avoid the many restricted view seats. I wasn't so clever). So what inspires this crazy loyalty to one show out of thousands on the Fringe? By the…

Summary

Rating

Unmissable!

A riotously fun crowd-pleaser which wraps glitter and fluff around an intelligent and utterly convincing message.

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By the time I saw Prom Kween a little over a week after opening night, it was already being billed as a Fringe highlight, selling out every performance. It has since won a coveted Stage Edinburgh award. The people sitting beside me had already seen the show twice each (which is why they got in early enough to avoid the many restricted view seats. I wasn’t so clever). So what inspires this crazy loyalty to one show out of thousands on the Fringe? By the time the whole room broke out in uproarious karaoke for the second time before the show even began properly, the answer was clear to me . It only became more clear throughout this topical, transporting joy-feast of a show.

Rebecca Humphries – the show’s author and director as well as a performer – said that she made the show after not seeing enough musical comedy on offer at last year’s Fringe. She clearly did her research, as did producer Aine Flanagan (the power behind other Fringe hits including the fantastic Hear Me Raw and How to Win Against History). Prom Kween is a magic mixture of fashionable subject matter, a script packed to bursting with pop culture references to suit every age of Fringe-goer, and a host of reviews from an earlier London preview run that clearly inspired further development (Vaults Festival 2017). It’s not just pop though, it’s politics; just as things start getting a bit fluffy the hilarity calls out government hypocrisy and also manages to make fun of high school musicals – and the whole idea of prom queen – in a delightful and engaging way.

RuPaul Charles (William Donaldson) as narrator/guardian angel/headmistress guides proceedings with poise, grace and maximum fabulousness. He explains the story that inspired the show – Matthew, the world’s first non-binary high school prom queen in New York last year. All other cast members take their turns playing Matthew, and I was pleasantly surprised by how effective this was. The action and the consistently catchy songs (Joanna Cichonska) were fleshed out by a clutch of hilarious American High School show stereotypes (also played by everyone): Lexi the mean prom queen rival, her boyfriend the secretly gay jock, Mike’s father, a patriotic policeman who doesn’t know how racist he is, and so on.

The end is full of surprises, triumphs, and surprisingly touching moments that wholeheartedly celebrate inclusivity without ever getting too preachy. Performances were committed and stylish across the board. Roll on the next run.

Writer and Director: Rebecca Humphries
Producer: Aine Flanagan Productions
Composer: Joanna Cichonska
Movement Direction: Mark Wilson
Booking Until: 27 August 2017
Box Office:
0844 545 8252
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/prom-kween

About Laura Sampson

Laura Sampson
Laura is a London-born arts evangelist and self-confessed jack-of-all-trades. She ended up studying English and Medieval studies at UCL, then worked in publishing before running off to Tokyo to eat sushi and study Noh drama. Now back in London, she's a stage design agent, storytelling promoter, singer, and radio sound engineer, among other things. She loves seeing all kinds of theatre, and she's particularly partial to anything a bit mythological.