Euan McIver’s Dragging up the Past, The Matings,
Those who regularly attend Duns pantomimes each year will be familiar with Euan McIver’s numerous outfit changes. Frock options often reach double figures per show, and in La Mouche earlier this year he succeeded in playing three characters all at once.
But the Coldstream actor’s numbers were surpassed in Dragging up the Past with an impressive 16 changes in all.
Cleverly dispersed with video clips, slideshows and musical interludes by accompanist Sam Lord, the audience at the Maltings in Berwick were never left waiting in a one-man show about the history of drag acts which bounced along at great speed.
First to the floor was Mrs Wilma Buttwich, beginning the narrative of the history of men dressing as woman began. First through necessity and then for comedy.
Greek ‘Cassandra’ detailed the role of men on stage. To the untrained eye she gave a nod to Lily Savage with a high white perm and scouse accent.
Launching into an excellent monologue based at a Greek party “Poseidon was sloshed, Medusa got stoned while Atlas was on top of the world”.
We even had a gatecrasher with Roman mythological god Thor thrown into the mix.
Cassandra herself confessed and an audience bright enough to get the joke would be too clever to find that sort of humour funny.
The unnamed Mrs Noah brought feminist issues, continuing the theme of the historical need for drag artists. Women on stage, it was explained, would be considered improper.
It was followed by ‘over the garden wall’ gossip Norman Evans bringing a more recent approach of the drag artist portraying a matriarch.
A slide show of famous drag acts closed the first half. One woman in the audience audibly gasped to see George Clooney in gold sequins, while spontaneous applause broke out for the recently departed Robin Williams.
A distinct mood change greeted audience on their return from the interval with a sultry lighting scheme and an acoustic version of ‘Fever’ by Sam Lord on the piano.
Toes tapped and fingers clicked, and the audience were left in no doubt that the divas were set to arrive. They were not disappointed as Charles Pierce’s version of Mae West sashayed onto the stage shortly followed by Mae West.
Both came with cutting put downs and much more audience interaction than the first half. Danny La Rue entertained with musical numbers ‘girl with a little bit extra’ and signature tune ‘on mother Kelly’s door step’ which split the audience into two age groups: those that could join in with the 1960s single, and the younger.
Dame Hilda Bracket was next on stage, sipping sherry and chatting to audience members brave enough to take the front tables in the cabaret style seating.
Closing the show was self-proclaimed giga-star (bigger than a mega-star) Dame Edna Everage, bursting onto the stage with a classic “hello possums” in a trademark gladiola dress and other the top specks.
It was here Euan’s nack for mimicry shone through once more, not only perfecting the Australian accent of Sir Barry Humphries famous creation but also the style of complimentary put downs synonymous with many Royal Variety shows.