Friday 10 January 2020

Party Snake review

When we see drag queens perform, they are confident, loud and love being the centre of attention. But how often do we think about the person behind the wig, makeup and dazzling outfit? In Kotryna Gesait’s Party Snake, the duality of these two existences is explored as a drag queen arrives home from a night out only to begin getting ready for work that morning as a primary school drama teacher. 

As Queen and the man behind the persona, Lachlan Martin shows a commanding and captivating understanding of who they are, or thinks they are. It’s rare to watch someone act drunk or high in an authentic yet interesting way, but Martin ensures that despite the state she is in, Queen never stops being a layered character who continues to surprise and engage us. As Queen begins to remove her wig, makeup and clothes, Martin finds a consistent balance in showcasing the opposing nature of these lives. The closer he gets to leaving for work, the more subdued and awkward he becomes, where even his voice changes from animated and bold to meek and polite. It's an incredibly restrained performance that clearly presents an innate awareness of their character.

Gesait utilises the entire small stage at The Burrow with a full set, taking us into Queen’s overstuffed bedroom with clothing, accessories and other items covering every inch of the space. There is much detail in the design to convey the lifestyle of Queen and the man, and while most of it remains untouched in the show, it gives a clear illustration of the life that this person leads.

Gesait's script doesn’t rush us or Queen, as she calmly and assuredly draws us into this moment in time. Her unhurried approach to the beginning of the transformation allows us to better understand Queen and to experience their loneliness and vulnerability rather than simply being told about it. As with her previous writing, Gesait reveals great skill in exploring the yearning we have to connect with others and the struggle we face in getting to know who we are.

Our personalities change depending on who we are with and where we are. This shedding of one skin and replacing it with another can be a difficult thing to undertake and potentially lead to confusion as to who our true self is. In Party Snake though, Gesait argues that maybe there’s enough room for these to all coexist, to find the things that drive us and give us passion and to embrace them wholeheartedly and without fear.

Venue: The Burrow, 83 Brunswick St. Fitzroy.
Season: until 12 January | Sat 8pm, Sun 5pm
Tickets: $35 Full | $30 Conc
Bookings: The Burrow 

Image Credit: Phoebe Taylor

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