It may be difficult to register in the liberal bubble of the Fringe, but prejudice against LGBTQ people is not a thing of a dim and distant past but still a present-day issue. That’s just one of the issues writer/actor Henry Egar explores in his Fringe debut play, alongside mental health and celebrity culture, plus a couple of political sideswipes.
If that sounds a little scattershot, that’s because it is, and it would be fair to say some issues are dealt better with than others.
The main focus of the play is Anthony (Egar) who we follow both as he tries to overcome the trauma of a violent homophobic attack and on his path to fame as his drag alter-ego Theresa Mayhem, whom we see a glimpse of during their act in one scene. Unfortunately, through no fault of the writer but due to the speed of political events, it is an act that seems dated already. That said, it is still a fun scene as Anthony/Mayhem performs the ‘Brexit Hokey-Cokey’.
Most of the action takes place in the flat Anthony shares with his best friend/flatmate Lucy (Natasha Haward). Their relationship is bickering but loving, and it is, at times, touching to watch this friendship under strain, as neither know how to cope with Anthony’s trauma. However, the relationship could have been fleshed out a bit more and could perhaps have done without some of the distractions in the play, most especially in a scene with plumber Jude (Prudence Prescott), which feels like something ripped straight out of a bad sitcom.
Elsewhere, the segments focusing on Anthony climb to fame are less effective. In particular, the scenes where Anthony goes to see a couple of TV talent show producers (played by Haward and Prescott) fail to hit their mark. They inevitably and predatorily hone in on any tragic pieces of backstory, which is probably quite accurate but is also an on-the-nose piece of writing.
Despite several unsatisfactory elements, there is one undisputed highlight and that is a monologue which sees Anthony in ‘conversation’ with his younger self. It is a moment that feels honest and moving and shows off Egar’s real potential both as writer and performer.
This searing monologue also inspires hope the remainder of the play will be of a similarly high standard. But shortly after this, it just stops with an ending that abruptly comes out of nowhere.
Psycho Drama Queen is a solidly acted piece with some interesting things to say about trauma and young LGBTQ identity. Unfortunately, it also feels half-baked, unfocused and, most frustrating of all, cuts off just when you think it might be getting good.