Fables tell us that we show our worth through courage.
In our time, the courage demanded by coaches and fans in sporting contests overshadows other kinds, those with effects that can’t be treated with an ice pack. Take the decision of Ricky (Beirao) to shed anonymity and tell an audience about his appearances in glitter and heels through his show Confessions of a Drag Queen.
Life is a journey and so is this show, starting from the airplane-like briefing for the audience and the a luminous display of sparkles and sequins that hint of the glamour to follow. We progress to Ricky re-enacting scenes from growing up in Brazil, his sister’s taunts of “gay” for playing with her Barbie and Ken, and his father’s hostile references to “the gay disease” AIDS, which he attempts to manage with medication.
We jump from pathos to some immature humour in shadow puppetry used to show young Ricky’s emigration to New Zealand. In this and other disjointed scenes, Confessions of a Drag Queen shows itself to be quite patchy.
There is certainly fun to be had in the show. Ricky commits himself to dance routines with his two unintroduced female accomplices. While their uninhibited posturing, costumes and makeup could be quite amusing, these scenes don’t always serve the story. When a scene appeared to have relevance to Ricky’s choices in life, the import could be out-glittered by unrestrained flamboyance or caricature. A scene where Ricky attends a Zumba class so he can lose weight to get into drag almost makes a point about body image, but this is lost in buffoonery as he plays the class instructor keen on working every South American dance into the class. The result made me wonder, not for the first time, if the scene ever happened or if it was there purely for silly laughs.
The show is at its best and most involving when Ricky speaks as Ricky, whether it’s about his first time in drag as Rhubarb Rouge, the back-stabbing between drag queens or how waxing for the part can see you overlooked on Grindr. It is telling that Ricky admits to not knowing why he started performing in drag and I sense there is still much of his story to explore. I hope someone will give him a big hug and reinforce his courage so that he will take an editing pen to the script, combine his truths with the tassels, and continue what he has begun.