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A Night With Thick and Tight review at Lilian Baylis Studio, London – ‘a subversive delight’

A Night With Thick and Tight at Lilian Baylis Studio. Photo: Judita Kuniskyte
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What would happen if Miss Havisham and Queen Victoria met up for a little conversation, cavorting and mutual sourness? As imagined by Thick and Tight, the encounter is a subversive delight: a duet of comically competitive suffering between the vituperative virgin and royally crabby widow over which the bitterness sits as heavy as the makeup and mothballs.

Eleanor Perry and Daniel Hay-Gordon combine drag, contemporary dance, diva worship and satire with some damn fine lip-synching to create a miniature marvel of a show, seamlessly shifting between high camp melodrama (using extracts from Eastenders, Dynasty and golden era Hollywood classics) and juddering, clawed expressionist movement to form a wholly absorbing sensory nightmare of matriarchal dysfunction.

Their second duet, the Princess and the Showgirl, pairs Marilyn Monroe with Princess Diana, the sex object and dutiful wife both bearing the burden of fame and beauty, of male fantasy and media intrusion. It’s here that the pathos is as deeply felt as the humour. A gentle, gestural duet to Velvet Underground’s Pale Blue Eyes, punctuated by tender touches, has an almost unbearably sad beauty. It’s wonderfully balanced with the raucously absurd energy of Prince Charles’ appearance as a talking arse, and Lady Di strutting about to Duran Duran’s Notorious while brandishing a landmine detector.

In the bill’s equally exhilarating middle section, dancer and choreographer Julie Cunningham makes a vivid appearance as Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore – radical artists, step-sisters and gender-fluid lovers– in a driving solo of constantly reframed lines, drawn with a rebelliously sharp kinetic kick.

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Verdict
Superbly funny and surprisingly poignant combination of dance and drag that reimagines famous female figures
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