It’s too conformist. It’s not political enough. There’s a diversity problem. The drag debate began long ago and won’t be settled anytime soon. But surely, if a show has talent and is attracting a new audience then it’s doing something right? If so, there’s very little to debate: RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Series 3 Tour is bloody brilliant.
The latest season of RuPaul on the BBC boasted a stellar line-up. But it’s not until each queen is given an equal time to shine that it’s clear just how stellar. There are no weak links, everyone is bringing their a-game and the result is mainstream drag at its very finest.
A black and white-themed runway opener gives the up-for-it-audience a first glimpse of what’s in vogue. The looks are predictably incredible. This review will focus on the performances and staging because the writer is not a fashion queen but be in no doubt that the outfits are all extraordinary.
After our winner – Krystal Versace – has introduced the cast she has a chance to address the audience. That global tour while the other queens were enduring drag brunches – her words, not mine – did her good. She’s unsanitised, political, lively and fun.
What follows is a traditional drag show with each queen given the stage to own. And own it they all do. Lip synching, singing, dancing, performance art, opera. It’s all here.
There are too many highlights to list but it’s a joy to see some of the queens we lost too soon from the TV show. Creatively dramatic Anubis, campy trailblazer Victoria Scone and Elektra Fence with a truly showstopping performance.
It’s so good to watch Drag Queens who can sing. Both River Medway and Veronica Green stand out. What other shows can boast covers of both Miley Cyrus and Puccini?
The queens are supported by four outstanding dancers who hardly have a second to breathe off stage. They’re in every performance swapping dance syles and outfits like nobody’s business. The harness and kilt combo is a particularly good look.
As the show speeds along to its conclusion the audience gets to enjoy the big stars of the season. Vanity Milan describes herself as ‘unapologetically black’ and she certainly has nothing to apologise for. A Beyonce-inspired set Queen B would be proud of.
The series was not as diverse as it could or should have been. This show can’t change that but it would have been good to see more female and trans representation on the stage, as well as more people of colour.
The stage itself isn’t perfect. Sight lines at the side are pretty poor and the back screen could afford to be larger, given the size of the venues.
However, these are minor niggles. There’s talent. There’s a young, new audience loving drag. There’s a disco finale. What’s not to love?
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Series 3 Tour is touring until October. Tickets can be found at https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/rupaul-s-drag-race-uk-series-3-tour-tickets/artist/5366052
Reviewer: Peter Ruddick
Reviewed: 16th September 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★