Jonathan Larkin’s new play is indeed a sparkling celebration of everything queer. Set in the world of Liverpool drag, this sharply funny and poignant play focuses on the outrageous diva Cherry Brandy (Mickey Jones) and her friends, rivals and herstory within the queer community.
Cherry appears to be in the autumn of her drag life, but she has one thing that most of her rivals don’t really have and that is a passion for life and a big sense of fun; yes she has her low moments (don’t we all) but she is a local icon and we just know that she could easily wipe the floor with all of the pretenders to her diva status.
Larkin’s beautifully constructed script is both astute and crisp and never draws breathe with some great one- liners, gobby scouse humour and quite barbed dialogue throughout.
Directed with great finesse by James Baker the small cast of four are excellent, never dropping a beat and moving Cherry’s story along at a cracking pace.
Heidi Handjob (Mariah Louca) is Cherry’s bestie who seems to have met the man of her dreams, much to the irritation of Cherry, but they remain loyal to each other, and Louca brings lots of emotional energy and warmth to the role.
Mo (George Jones) the token straight guy of the piece seems to more than like the company of Cherry and her friends, Jones brings a charming naivety to this small but perfectly rounded role.
Then we have Pearl Reckless (Stefan Race), the young club princess who has her eye on becoming the next drag icon in town. Race gives an outstanding and bravado performance, and he is definitely a young actor to watch out for in the future.
I have to say that all three characters are so well realised and add tons of emotional ups and downs to Cherry’s story.
For me though, Jones as Cherry is a real revelation – he gives a finely tuned and shining performance that remains central to the whole play itself. He totally commands the stage when he appears.
I was also very impressed by the multi layered set designed by Ellie Light converting effortlessly from club toilet to Cherry’s flat.
Superb lighting design (Jai Morjaria) and sound design (Daniel Mawson) gives us the perfectly joyful finale to this Jezebels story and its richly rewarded by a standing ovation.
It’s to Larkin’s credit that he finely balances the comedy with the more dramatic and thought-provoking moments of the piece, addressing both past and present social issues surrounding homophobia and related hate crimes on our streets which deliberately target our queer community.
It is a play about belonging, about family and about being true to oneself. Witty and touching in equal measure, you’d jump at a chance to have a girl’s night out with this lot!
I know I would!
You can see Cherry and her friends at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool until 26th March 2022 – tickets from www.everymanplayhouse.com
Reviewer: Kiefer Williams
Reviewed: 15th March 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★