Heels of Glory
Tricity Vogue & Richard Link
It’s rare to be man- (woman-) handled by slightly camp, over-excited henchmen dressed in oversized boiler suits and hard hats whilst scrambling for your theatre seat moments before the start of a performance. Well that’s what will happen to you if you pop along to the Chelsea Theatre to see Tricity Vogue and Richard Link’s new musical drag action Heels of Glory.
Being groped by chuckling henchmen wasn’t my only ‘first’ on Saturday evening either. It was also my debut at the Chelsea Theatre—a space that’s probably used as a community centre, come bingo hall, come mother and baby facility during the week for the residents of the World’s End Estate where it’s located.
So, although the choice of wine was limited to ‘red or white’ and the chairs were somewhat uncomfortable, the staff were extremely welcoming in what is clearly a lovely theatre worthy of its place on the vibrant London fringe circuit.
There may be many people reading this that fully support arch villain Allura Supreme's (Sarah-Louise Young) ambition to rid the world of every drag queen there is. But, her journey to eradicate them isn’t made easy when aspiring drag queen Honey and his spotty sidekick and best friend Jay sneak into La Douche—the best drag club in the land—and the venue where Allura plans to launch her venomous plan.
The club is rocking and at its helm is Queen of the drags Splendorella, played by the voluptuous and strikingly beautiful Topsie Redfern—the winner of best newcomer drag act in 2014.
Splendorella isn’t just splendid looking in all her glittering refinery, but she has a voice that could match any West End leading lady and a presence that is both commanding and endearing.
Having seen Topsie Redfern at the RVT in South London a couple of times, it was no surprise to hear her belt out the show’s catchy numbers with power and confidence—however what was a treat was how she led from the front with confidence and vigour. There’s no doubt this performance will put Topsie Redfern right at the top of London’s bitchy and fiercely competitive drag queen tree.
Despite this praise, Splendorella is also a bit stupid and drawn in by Allura’s offer to give thousands of drags special cream that will make them eternally young. She’s oblivious to the plot and it’s only with the help of Honey and Jay, played by the wonderful Matthew Floyd Jones and Susan Harrison, that saves the day.
The drama, music and acting are lively and at times it's even nail-biting. There’s a bit of a dip in the show's energy during the first half, but things get back on track in the second half and end with a surprisingly uplifting finale.
Heels of Glory is part of this year’s London Pride Festival and, given the glamorous location of La Douche, the action-packed plot, its catchy high energy music and a sterling cast of henchmen and drag queens, it’s a truly fitting show to what will be a sombre, passionate and defiant festival this year following the horrific events in Orlando.
And, behind the fun there’s also a message that love and good will always defy evil—a message that couldn’t be any more appropriate at this difficult time.
Heels of Glory is on at the Chelsea Theatre until 26 June.
Reviewer: Thomas Magill