Writer: Alun Saunders
Directors: Mared Swain & Jess Williams
Reviewer: Beth Steer
Using drag queens, glitz, and glamour to explore difficult, dark subjects like suicide, isolation, and loneliness, might seem like a difficult concept to make work – but TUCK smashes it out of the park. And it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
Another outstanding piece of theatre from Welsh playwright Alun Saunders, TUCK’s self-professed blend of comedy, sequins, and sorrow is astonishing in what it manages to achieve. Simultaneously showcasing the fun and fabulousness of the drag world, while exposing the range of very real reactions people have to shock and grief, it treads a careful, feather-dusted line between the raucous and the raw – and it works brilliantly.
The writing is exceptional and the delivery is fantastic. It’s a show within a play – and there’s a dual-level of acting, a sort of drag-within-drag – that showcases the talent of the actors cleverly and authentically.
You’ll be swept along with the four fabulous queens on their journey, through the shiny and not-so-shiny, and the overriding message, that what’s going on on the outside is often worlds away from what’s happening within, is poignant and powerful. Iestyn Arwel as Steve, or Martha Titful, is a phenomenal talent, making you splutter with laughter and also get goosebumps at the same time. As young queen Lola Bipolar, Gareth Evans is brilliant, her finale-worthy song an anthem before the show’s even finished. Lewis Brown, as Medusa Massid, pulls some cleverly political dance routines out the bag and, as the drag-mother and all-round icon, Patsy Thatcher, Stifyn Parri is a force to behold: simultaneously intimidating and endearing, someone you’d be equally thrilled and terrified to share a gin and tonic with.
It’s witty, it’s dark, it’s bilingual, and it’s incredibly moving. As part of the Wales Millenium Centre’s programme, Performances for the Curious, it’s a completely unexpected piece of magic, set, of course, in the funky ffresh cabaret lounge. It goes beyond sass and satire and it’ll leave your cheeks aching from laughter, while wet from tears. Don’t miss it.
Reviewed on 25th October 2018 | Image: Contributed