Note: This review is from the 2023 Fringe

For better or for worse, Disney is a guaranteed crowd pleaser wherever it goes. In the case of Dizney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody, it goes places that would likely make Walt Disney himself retch, and if that isn’t a sales pitch then nothing is. The Hairy Godmothers, a phenomenal creative ensemble from Perth, Australia have come up with a smutty, endlessly funny and decidedly modern reimagination of classic fairy tale characters and tropes. As long as you give yourself in to the chaos, it proves to be a wickedly good time.

Following the hero and her Hairy Godmother as they try to find her one true love, several of classic Disney’s highest profile stars make an appearance. The drag kings and queens breathe new life and energy into characters just when you think you have seen it all, with musical numbers from The Little Mermaids Ariel and Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston proving to be particular highlights. The centerpiece however is the Hairy Godmother herself, a majestic and sassy master of ceremonies who easily gets some of the biggest laughs and cheers. Unsurprisingly, Dizney in Drag is also awash with puns, some of which are pretty good and others that are unspeakably corny. 

Dizney in Drag brings those things that are lacking in the antiquity of classic Disney to the surface. Self-expression, self-love, and sexuality form the backbone of the comedy but also the pantomime heart of the show. You could hardly call it sincere, but the cast do take the significance of drag and freedom of identity seriously enough that all the fun and games feel like much more than a cold theatrical cash-in.

The audience engagement and passion are sky high, even if willing participants in the action are curiously hard to come by. After a few unsuccessful calls, the cast even have to rely on one of their tech staff to plug the gap that an unwitting crowd member would normally occupy. But otherwise the audience more than do their bit to whip up the party atmosphere. 

Using theatre to reinvent what can feel like otherwise stale old stories, Dizney in Drag brings out both the best and the worst of its source material for a wild night of celebration. The gender norms and constrictive narratives are cast aside in favour of beer, kinks, and pride. It makes for a thunderously good time.

Dizney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody runs until Sun 27 Aug 2023 at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose – Big Yin at 18:30