Review: Priscilla: Queen of the Desert at the Cliffs

September 8, 2021

A magnificent performance of the musical Priscilla: Queen of the Desert last night at the Cliffs Pavilion. If you are feeling a little low after lockdown this show is just the tonic that you need. From start to finish you will have a smile on your face with this foot tapping, hand clapping, eye popping, jaw dropping show. Full of glitz, fun and glamour the show brings the West End to Southend-on-Sea.

The three leading characters played by (Miles Weston, Nick Hayes and Edwin Ray) were superb as drag queens Bernadette, Felicia and Tick. The three singers (Divas) bring a touch of musical class and sassiness to the whole show pumping out iconic disco classics such as “It’s Raining Men” and “I Will Survive”. The remainder of the cast were unstoppable with super quick costume changes and complex dance routines they were to be commended.

The production, based on the 1994 film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, follows the journey of three drag queens as they trek their way across the desert from Sydney to Alice Springs in an old beat up bus called Priscilla. Their journey begins when Tick’s estranged wife begs him to visit the son he has never seen, causing him to drive across the country to put on a drag show at the Alice Springs Casino. Tick contacts his old friend Bernadette, a faded ‘Les Girls’ founder who has just lost her husband Trumpet, and Felicia, an old friend with whom Tick has always wanted to venture out of Sydney and take their show into unknown territory.

Each of the lead characters have distinct personalities and the banter between them is lively and often witty in an outrageous and raunchy way. I will admit that I didn’t know much about drag performance before going so the debate between the bold, Kylie-obsessed Felicia and the traditional Bernadette on what makes a good drag act made for interesting dialogue. The character’s sexualities are also different in important ways which was, again, surprising as I had expected to just see gay and not much more. Bernadette is a post-op transsexual while Tick is married to (and loves) a woman; according to him there is no word for it: ‘I’m just me’.

So the journey begins leaving the safe haven of Sydney behind to bring glitz and glamour to the Australian outback. This is the setup to most of the drama in the show and you can imagine how well drag performance goes down in the bush. The characters deal with a lot of hostility ranging from plain meanness to sexual assault although the show doesn’t dwell too long on these topics and the light-hearted mood never sours completely.

This is not a show where you would sit quietly contemplating the difficulties of being different in the world we live in. it is a show that whips up the audience into singing and dancing (literally, the audience were on their feet). A very special evening.


This article features the following businesses:

The Cliffs Pavilion

The Cliffs Pavilion

The Cliffs Pavilion presents fantastic west end, touring shows, musicians and plays throughout the year.

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