Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
It is impossible to not have a fabulous time at a BenDeLaCreme show. This reviewer has been lucky enough to see DeLa at each of her four solo shows at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, and she has unfailingly been a dazzling delight in each of them. The generosity of energy and attention to detail she brings to the stage is star-quality. And not just “niche-celebrity-who-sometimes-gets-recognized-in-airports” star quality, but true a-list genius bubbles over the brim of DeLa’s effervescent performance.
Armed with plentiful puns and cleverly insightful song covers, BenDeLaCreme takes to the stage to share her wedding day with the audience. She has a cake, she has champagne… but the groom and the ring? They can’t be that hard to find, right? Through adventures with Grindr, sentient wedding cake toppers, the god of love, dress shopping on reality TV, and even a brief jaunt to medieval times (the era, not the restaurant); DeLa explores the question of what love is, and tackles how we as a society frame relationships. Never giving the audience a pat answer, she invites us to ruminate on romance with her as she unpacks some mores that maybe need to be a little less[es].
In addition to her stunning costumes that would make a burlesque dancer’s heart go pit-a-pat with adoring jealousy, BenDeLaCreme’s work with video and puppetry is noteworthy and laudable. Every character onstage or on camera is played by DeLa herself, including a talking phallic-shaped water bottle. Perhaps the most incredible moment of puppetry is DeLa’s dance with death, in which a clever take on the grim reaper (no more details on that take to avoid ruining the fun!), operated by DeLa’s left side, repeatedly attempts to murder DeLa herself on the right. The scene is charming and convincing, looking more like two performers engaged in complex fight choreography than a drag queen in a pantomime tussle with herself.
It is attention to detail and craft, like the moment with the reaper puppet, that launches BenDeLaCreme from simply bubbly to entirely brilliant. Even a pun about tulle, very much on level as a total dad-joke, is fresh and charming with DeLa’s delivery. It is clear that every moment is fully thought out, every educational musical number dramaturged to the nth degree. And yet, there is an ease and true illusion of the first time in this performance. With unfaltering energy and zeal, DeLa delivers a doozy of a show. Though BenDeLaCreme may not be able to define what love is in words, she shows it in her work, and in the hearts of those who get to experience it.
Runs Until 23 June, 2019