You know that feeling when you arrive slightly late to a show, and are nervous about whether the performer might pick on you or your shy accomplice?
This was my vibe as I arrived to see Essex Drag King and would-be lover Brent Would, already owning the stage and the crowd a few minutes in.
I needn’t have worried. Brent, gloriously moustachioed and wearing fabulous and very manly glittery boots, is a lover, not a fighter, and this isn’t that kind of show. He might want to put it up your butt, but only if you’re definitely up for it. Because – as oft repeated at this night of glorious and steamy improvised cabaret – consent is sexy.
With deadpan musical geezer Shane Could on guitars, loops, and Boyzone facts, Brent gets to work attempting to serenade and, if possible, bed the audience, but only if we’re up for it. This character is a breath of fresh air, and a refreshing slap in the face for those of a middle class persuasion wondering how an Essex lad could possibly be au fait with concepts like toxic masculinity and important advice like honestly, putting things up your butt is it totally heterosexual nowadays.
The audience are nervous at first, evidently cowed by Brent’s charming personality. But soon enough propositions are made, stories emerge, and the boundaries between crowd and performer melt away.
Our reward for this are a series of bangers – one tune is almost a non-Welsh GLC, and I mean that as a compliment – largely improvised by Brent on the weird and wonderful experiences of our late night room.
So we get a singalong bad gifts bad gifts (no receipts no receipts) about being bought a self-help book called “There’s nothing wrong with you” for your eighteen birthday, a very romantic Disney parody in “Can I Sniff Your Pants Tonight”, and a lovely serenading of a Welsh woman whose dreams of being a fashion designer were stymied by not being able to draw bodies very well.
And fucking hell, Brent has a fair old pair of pipes on him.
One moment summed up the gorgeous, consensual and hilarious show’s ethos. An audience member is invited on stage to unpeeled a very sexy banana suit, but isn’t comfortable with dancing afterwards, so pulls the Time Out symbol, as taught by Brent at the top of the show, and heads off stage. And this gets one of the biggest cheers of the night.
RATING: **** 5 stars