Pros: Lots of laughs and avant-garde drag performances mixed into a stream of social commentary.
Cons: A few moments were a little disjointed and I didn’t quite understand what the purpose was.
David Hoyle is described as an anti-drag performer and I would imagine that he paved the way for many of the alternative drag performers we see today in the UK. In the 1980s and 90s he performed under the name The Divine David and enjoyed fame on the gay cabaret circuit and on TV until he eventually killed the character off.
The Divine David’s glory days were a little bit before my time so I hadn’t appreciated the popularity he had enjoyed, but I certainly found out when I visited Soho Theatre. I was 5 minutes late (thanks TfL) and found that my place had been given away, such was the clamour for seats! Luckily I managed to find the one remaining seat elsewhere in the theatre and squeezed myself in.
The performance itself focused on LGBT life in the UK over the past 60 years and juxtaposed pivotal historical moments against often hilarious experiences in David’s own life. From growing up gay in a religious family in Blackpool, to a first job working as a flamboyantly out gay man working in BHS, through to living a hedonistic party lifestyle in London where he went for a night out and didn’t come back home for three years. Touchingly there were fans in the audience that David remembered from the past who he delightedly picked out and welcomed during the night as he spotted them.
A projection screen was used to amplify the performance, giving titles to each act, flashing up meaningful words and showing videos and images that related to the stories being told.
David was dressed in a range of flowing chiffon dresses and capes bedecked with sparkling jewels. He wore laddered tights and heavy smudged make-up, a reaction against the polished styling of many more mainstream drag performers.
Interspersed within the act were dance performances from drag dance / lip sink group The LipSinkers. They broke up the sometimes dark and tense moments in the show with exuberant dance and mime performances in sequin and rhinestone drenched costumes.
The finale was a lovely hopeful experience wherein David talked about his hopes for the future. Meanwhile The LipSinkers bopped gigantic balloons into the audience and popped glitter cannons! It served as a perfect foil to some of the darker parts of the earlier performance and allowed the audience to leave the theatre on a high.
Writer: David Hoyle
Starring: David Hoyle and The LipSinkers
Booking Until: 18 November 2017
Box Office: 020 7478 0100
Booking Link: http://sohotheatre.com/whats-on/david-hoyle-diamond/