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Prom Kween review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘sharp, satirical and bursting with heart’

Cast of Prom Kween at Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh. Photo: Max Lacome Rebecca Humphries and Sam Swann in Prom Kween at Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh. Photo: Max Lacome
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In 2016 Matthew Crisson, a student who recognises as non-binary, made headlines when he was crowned prom queen at La Guardia High School in New York. Following on from her critically acclaimed Dizney Rascal, Rebecca Humphries’ Prom Kween is a riotous musical theatre piece, offering a fictional account of Matthew’s story.

Humphries shrewdly taps into one of the most prominent themes of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, infusing her musical with on-trend political comedy and familiar pop cultural references.

Using the character of RuPaul Charles as narrator and channelling every high school movie from Grease to Mean Girls, Matthew’s story becomes a celebration of what can be achieved when you learn to love who you are. It helps that Joanna Cichonska and Tim Gardner’s musical numbers are both smartly constructed and catchy, and having Matthew played by four performers playfully underlines gender fluidity.

William Donaldson steps into some pretty fabulous shoes as RuPaul, warming up the crowd and navigating the action with supreme confidence. Between them, a seemingly indefatigable ensemble including Humphries morph into an array of familiar comic characters but the satire never overpowers the import of the show’s central message. Strategically overlaid with glitter Prom Kween is sharp, satirical and bursting with heart.

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Musical comedy that nails the zeitgeist of this year's Edinburgh Fringe