Jonny Woo: International Woman of Mr ‘E’
Moving and darkly comic one-(wo)man show
This article is from 2008.
Jonny Woo, drag queen darling of the London alt.queer scene appears onstage beneath sequined butterfly make-up and various costumes. He knows that the act of wearing a mask is designed to reveal rather than disguise the self underneath and allows his multiform creative talents to shine through. Woo exploits the self-conscious façade of the drag queen to inhabit the roles of dramatic monologist, spoken-word poet, cabaret songstress, lip-synching transvestite and quick-witted comedian. The result is a one-(wo)man show, loosely based on a brush with drug-induced death, in which emotional truth sits alongside enthralling entertainment.
The emotional journey adroitly takes in Shakespeare, Christina Aguilera and Edith Piaf via the Magical Flying Drag Queen, a macabre short story and a breakneck, pill-popping version of ‘Pretty Polly Piper’. A subject that could be disastrously earnest in less ironic hands is rendered moving and darkly comedic as Woo encompasses the full role of a clown: both humorous and tragic.
It would be churlish to complain about slightly lengthy costume changes when Woo barely pauses for breath in this masterclass in every theatrical genre. His make-up doesn’t run and not one word of the surprisingly literary script is out of place; all the better to reveal the fractured heart that lies beneath the gold leotard.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 668 1633, until 25 Aug (not 13), 9pm, £8–£9 (£7–£8).