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Dandy Darkly’s All Aboard! review at Underbelly Bristo Square, Edinburgh – ‘queer storytelling with creative eloquence’

Dandy Darkly. Photo: Atticus Stevenson
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Of all the American performers currently integrating apologies into their work at the moment, none comes close to the creative eloquence of queer storyteller Dandy Darkly. At face value, Darkly is a flamboyant glitter-soaked clown, dripping with lace and diamante while laying down innuendo in a suggestive Southern drawl.

Dandy Darkly’s All Aboard! centres on the night the Gaybird Steamer train ran off the rails just south of Georgia, killing many people. It’s also on that night that young Darnell witnesses the Ku Klux Klan at work for the first time and only narrowly escapes their vengeance. Surviving this experience, Darnell learns how to hide his true self until an eerie Colonel brings the world to its knees with the creation of a new toy. Using an evocative, original soundtrack and prose as rich as molasses, Darkly weaves a tale of greed, racism and retribution.

Steeped in Southern Gothic metaphors and imagery, All Aboard! is a wake-up call to mankind. Darkly’s storytelling bursts with the bizarre, from the African Spider goddess to twisted conjoined twins but it’s also a pointed, vociferous satire, taking out fame, the mob mentality of social media and the rise of the far right around the world.

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Revisionist socio-political satire packaged as a queer ghost story