Review: Dean Misdale’s Life’s a Drag at Perth Cultural Centre
Dean Misdale: Life’s a Drag at The Parlour @ Perth Cultural Centre
Saturday, February 11, 2023
Dean Misdale: Life’s a Drag was anything but drag in this entertaining and heartfelt look behind the rhinestoned curtain at one of Perth’s most well-known drag superstars.
Opening with a montage of charmingly awkward and wholesome videos and images of Misdale as a young person, performing in talent shows and school musicals, it was immediately clear that this show was a personal labour of love and, in many ways, an exercise in vulnerability and candid self-expression. This openness underscored the entire show with Misdale sharing stories of their professional and personal life, including their journey into drag, their hopes and aspirations as a young person, their showbiz struggles and their personal connections with family and other artists.
Misdale effortlessly nailed each moment in this show, moving seamlessly between the sincere, the hilarious and the performative and interlacing entertaining and emotional memoirs with thoughtfully selected songs and eye-catching outfits. With a repertoire including Adele, ABBA and Lily Allen, Misdale entertained with upbeat versions of classics, in addition to a very 90s-appropriate original recording, which was a nostalgic joy to behold.
One stand-out moment of the show (among recounts of meeting Adele, and starring in Priscilla Queen of the Desert), was Misdale’s reflection on their relationship with their nan. The beautiful representation of family and love in this show, using old home video footage and images, was palpable and highly emotional, and grounded Dean’s exciting tales of success and glamour in a candid moment of connection, growth and loss.
While it appeared that Misdale had many members of their fan base in the audience, a significantly greater proportion of the sold-out show were Misdale first-timers, which made for an interesting dynamic. Presenting essentially a musical memoir of their life and career, it was unlikely that new audience members would have connected with the same enthusiasm as Misdale’s front-row fan base, however Misdale’s charisma and sincerity as a performer quickly had the audience rooting for them and celebrating their wins and mourning losses as though close friends.
In an audience of young and old, male and female presenting, the diverse and widespread appeal of Misdale’s one-person cabaret was evident, and the inclusivity and universality of their tales of aspiration, heartbreak and determination were highly resonant. For lovers of cabaret, drag or comedy, this show is a must-see Fringe staple this year.