ED FRINGE: Lizard Boy – Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, Edinburgh

Reviewer: Dominic Corr

Book, Music & Lyrics: Justin Huertas

Director: Brandon Ivie

Getting drenched in dragon’s blood cannot be good for you, surely? Think of how hard it must stain for starts. But this is precisely what happened to Trevor, and a few other classmates of his, when he was a young boy. Twenty years later – his skin a vibrant green colour, scaly and touch, Trevor ends up on the one place anyone can find love: Grindr.

But that’s where the most dangerous, exciting, and fabled journeys originate…right?

Venturing from the land of the free to the cobbles of Edinburgh, Justin Huertas’s Lizard Boy has taken quite the journey to emerge at this year’s Festival Fringe. With US performances and Manchester runs, the story of a young man coming to terms with who he is, and the queer culture he wants to be a part of, is a touching comedic musical with droves of imagination and well-tuned songwriting.

Stripped back, Lizard Boy’s time within the Gilded Balloon feels less grand than it perhaps ought to be – with the vivid comic book colours and stylings all but removed for this scaled-down production. So, what does it have left? Well, thankfully, Lizard Boy contains all it requires to satisfy audiences within its vocals, cast, and script.

Alternating cast members between the American and UK company, this evening’s performance found audiences delighted to be reunited with the original trio US performing live onstage once again. With jaunty ukuleles, piano, guitar solos and even a kazoo or two, the instrumentals and sound design of the show are a major selling point, its musical numbers are often cited as the best part of writer and performer Huertas’ production. And it’s hard to disagree. Together he, Trevor, and William A. Williams make a cute pairing of Grindr hook-ups confused over the wording of ‘looking for now’, finding themselves trapped in an adventure after spotting a poster for a bar, where the singer on the cover seems to be in Trevor’s dreams lately.

Kirsten de Lohr Helland is, quite simply, terrifying. And that’s a compliment. Brash, and makes a sadistically sympathetic antagonist in Rock singer and Whiskey tanker Siren – and with a name like that, the pipes better live up to expectation. And boy, do they. Her rock battles with Huertas make for excellent tension builders, the pair’s vocal talents differentiating enough to harmonise, but highlight both.

Elements of Lizard Boy’s Fringe performance feel to have its once mighty wings somewhat clipped, and though it fails to soar quite as high as it ought, Huertas’ Lizard Boy still breathes fire and rock into the crowds of Edinburgh. An endearing tale of self-love and acceptance, which channels furious energy through its reptilian veins.

Runs until 28 August 2022

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