Before Prom Kween even starts, I have glitter on my face and am singing along to the Spice Girls, the lyrics projected on a screen over images of famous RuPaul’s Drag Race lipsyncs. This kickstarts an hour of sugary-sweet tunes and sharp humour, culminating in an emotional message of self-love.
Produced by the team behind Fringe hits How to Win Against History and Margaret Thatcher: Queen of Soho, Prom Kween follows the semi-real-life story of Matthew (whose last name is picked out of the audience), played by the entire ensemble under the premise that there’s a little bit of Matthew in all of us (…ahem). Matthew is non-binary, and in an unexpected turn they decide to run for prom queen. Cue showdown between Matthew and queen bee bitch of the school, Lexi.
It’s totally tropey, creating a Mean Girls-esque classic high school musical. But Prom Kween knows exactly what it is and what it’s emulating, and that makes it all the more hilarious. Its humour pushes jokes just the right side of dark, making us laugh and gasp without going too far. The comic timing is spot on, the show is hilarious, and has a truly emotive message to boot.
The ensemble cast, accompanied by an impressive RuPaul impersonation, toe the line between pizzazz and sincerity, getting us on board from the first moment. The combined writing efforts of Rebecca Humphries, Tim Gardner, and Jo Cichonska culminate in a cross-genre extravaganza, cherry-picking musical tropes as well as thematic ones to make the humour zing.
I understand that Prom Kween is not for everyone. As someone who is young, relatively recently out of education, and an avid watcher of Drag Race, it’s just my glittery, ridiculous cup of tea. It’s so unashamedly proud of its identity and genre, and how it completely owns it – which, in turn, compliments its final resounding message of loving yourself and staying true to who you are. It’s this self-assuredness and fun that turns Prom Kween from misfit to royalty.