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Review: The Twisted Circus @ St. David’s Hall, Cardiff

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On Easter Sunday, The Twisted Circus made its appearance in Wales’ capital, bringing people from all walks of life into one venue to enjoy performances from former club kid and transgender model icon Amanda Lepore and Ru Paul’s Drag Race’s royalty Chad Michaels, Shea Coulee, Kim Chi, Violet Chachki, Farrah Moan, and Milk.

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Klub Kids UK’s newest drag event claims to combine an ‘A Class circus production’ with creative drag performances. In reality, the circus troupe is drastically overshadowed by the drag performers, whose burlesque-style strip shows and rapid lip-syncing routines steal the limelight.

The show opens with visually stunning and breath-taking performances from the troupe of talented dancers and acrobats, who contort their bodies into all sorts of shapes whilst hanging precariously from aerial silks. Ringmaster Andrew Hoyle, dressed in tight-fit leggings and dazzling red coat and top-hat is tasked with riling up the audience – a difficult feat, considering the show began almost an hour late. As a result, the audience paid little appreciation to the troupe’s antics and the ringmaster’s jokes fell short.

The drag stars appear together onstage before they perform one-by-one, introduced by the ringmaster. Though the performances are unsatisfyingly short and the breaks between acts unnecessarily long, the performances are, as a whole, captivating, provocative, and wildly entertaining.

By far the winning performance of the show is All Stars 1 winner and Cher impersonator Chad Michaels, aged 47, but still appearing vivacious and dazzling in a blue feather ensemble. With the original performance of Cher’s Woman’s World playing in sync on a screen above the stage, there is little room for mistake. Nonetheless, Michaels’ striking physical resemblance and the precision of Cher’s little quirks create an uncanny impersonation, making the performance exceptionally delightful to watch.

Also a stand-out from night’s performances is Shea Coulee, runner-up from Drag Race Season 10, whose rapid lip-syncing skills and Daedalian dance routines seize the audience’s attention. A sharp contrast with the wonderfully burlesque strip-teases performed by ‘The Show Girls’, Farrah Moan and Violet Chachki, Shea’s energetic dance and lip-sync routine to a remix of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Whip It’ is a perfect example of how she won over fans in season 10.

The underdogs of the show, the queens less popular on Drag Race, Kim Chi and Milk, are granted less time onstage than the star acts but round out the show by providing comedy. Kim Chi, always candidly charming, uses her self-confessed naivety to her advantage and acting as the punchline to her jokes. Milk, oppositely, creates original comedy routines, clearly thought-through so that each joke lands perfectly with the audience. As a queen often criticised on Drag Race for her unduly high opinion of herself, Milk, surpasses expectations with her unique brand of part-provocative and part-enticing comedy.

Amanda Lepore, known for her role as one of the original of the iconic Club Kids who took America by storm in the late 1980s, is the only queen in the show without drag race qualifications and therefore unknown to a portion of the crowd. Nonetheless, Lepore fulfils the expectations of those who know her as a Club Kid, delivering a sexy performance with outrageous costumes and fake everything. A far-cry from the minimally padded burlesque-style strip tease given by Farrah Moan, Lepore sticks to her brand and makes herself known to the younger generations in the audience.

Those looking to widen their drag repertoire or experiment with celebrating a new form of entertainment should visit The Twisted Circus, but remember to bring money for a drink to get you through the ringmaster’s jokes and unbearably long intervals.

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