Sound of The Underground by Travis Alabanza. The Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1 to 25 February 2023. 3*** stars. William Russell.

The eight drag performers in this undisciplined, frequently hilarious rant against the way commercialism and property developers have overwhelmed the underground club scene in which they used to perform certainly know how to handle an audience, none more than Sue Gives A Fuckends up compering the individual turns when each gets down to doing his/her/their or whatever they prefer to be act in Act Two. The opening of Act One is a mess, the so called play that follows introduces everyone is really only interesting once we discover that, as well as what has happened to their venues of choice, they are up in arms against the sainted Ru Paul for sins against queer performers. The result of the Drag Race has been put their art into the mainstream, acceptable television and sanitised it. The joke is not developed to the full but it is a good line of argument. There are, however, possible too many bare bottoms exposed for laughs – flabby white cheeks are not the prettiest things to look at even if the drag above them is spectacular – and the last place, which goes to the self styled Drag King, is an impassioned rant against pretty well everything which one either falls for or finds deeply self indulgent from someone who is doing what they want to do. But it does make the point that the people who watch and laugh can just as easily later be the people in the street who beat them up. As usual lewd references to sexual acts form much of the material – this lot may be 21st century drag artistes but Mrs Shufflewick’s untouched pussy got there long before them – and mostly it is nowhere as daring as they all seem to think it is, although when it turns to life off stage and those who came to laugh treat them quite differently it is something else altogether. Some of the lip syncing in the second half gets a bit wonky and not everyone has the diction needed for a theatre but they all know how to hold an audience. The highlights? Well Lilly Snatchdragon is a terrific compere and Sadie Sinner The Songbirddoes a rather good striptease with fairy lights and Tammy Reynolds as Midgitte Bardot, who gets elevated to the flies on a most complicated machine, is rather endearing. It is eye-popping, eye-opening but not as breathtaking as it thinks it is.



Lily SnatchDragon

Ms Sharon le Grand.

Mwice Kavindele as Sadie the Songbird.

Rhys Hollis as Rhys’ Pieces.

Sue Gives A Fuck.

Tammy Reynolds as Midgitte Bardot.

Wet Mess.

Co-Creator & Director: Debbie Hanna.

Designers Rosie Elnite & Max Johns.

Lighting Designer: Simisola Majekodunmi.

Sound Designer & Composer & Arranger: Martin Lowe.

Movement Director: Bambi/Omar Jordan Philips

Production photograph: Helen Murray.

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