The party is over. Dissolving theatrically with drink, her smudged makeup threatening to overthrow the illusion, she remembers how the glitter turned brown in the corners of the room. She wonders: what’s the point?
Bathed in a rouge glow of light, there’s a Judy Garland bible on her make-up table, along with an almost-empty bottle of whiskey, a nimbus of photo cut-outs and a bottle of coconut oil. To the side sits a dismembered head and torso, ready and waiting for her skins.
Over the course of an hour, dispensing lewd jokes and coy sass, intimate stories and early morning reflections, she slowly shuffles off her nocturnal identity to become him. ‘Him’ being a bespectacled schoolteacher, unassuming in beige pants.
This isn’t so much a shucking, a cursory removal of a scarlet wig and green pointed heels. It is a radical enactment and witnessing of our essential amorphousness, a private show consecrated by intimacy and trust. An honest routine, just like all the rest.
In the dressing room of this Drag Queen performance artist and rebel philosopher, we are invited to consider what freedom means, the rules that we make and that we follow, and the imaginary line between performance and truth.
As playwright Kotryna Gesait wrote in Audrey Journal recently, “drag is questioning everything we know about ourselves … it is by its very nature a revolution”.
The queen tells us of how Van Gogh poisoned himself from trying to paint his insides yellow. She snorts cocaine off the dresser and promises this isn’t the format for the primary school drama class. Later, he will stand before us in a padded bra and ask: “Do you think I’m ugly?”. In his crumpled teacher’s get-up, looking entirely the part, he’ll tell us of how he made another whole world in six days with Adam – who then left on the seventh.
Party Snake is an enchanting, confronting and erudite play of transformations. It twists with glamour and grace, grief and memory. It erupts with humour, coils into melancholy.
With just three rows of wooden chairs encircling the tiny level performance space, the vulnerability of the character is palpable. When she/he looks at you, there is no hiding from those shards of pale blue eyes, sparkling with wit, steady with compassion.
Lachlan Martin performs this magnificent character, and is captivating in the role. Gesait met him at a party, so fate would have it, and from there the “creative love affair” bloomed.
Up from Melbourne with a small purse of Australian Cultural Centre funds, this queer production is a highlight of Sydney Fringe theatre this season.
See it before it ends this Saturday at the Old 505.
This content created with the support of City of Sydney