I FIRST saw The Ruby Slippers at The Lantern a couple of years back when it was in the early stages of development. It was a powerful piece then, if a little rough around the edges. This production, with largely the same cast with one notable exception, is a much more polished – and funnier – affair but the vital essence of the play remains. Writers Emma Culshaw and David Paul have succeeded in turning what might have been a niche production into a seriously commercial proposition.
The Ruby Slippers is a struggling gay night club that specialises in drag, and with competition in the form of Nine Inchers opening up things can only get worse. Sound familiar?
The club is owned by Raz, played by James Rogerson a former drag queen who is rapidly losing his roster of acts to the new place around the corner – only drag acts Destiny and Phoenix and hunky barman Ryan have stayed loyal.
Destiny and Phoenix, played by Owen Farrow and Jordan Simms, provide plenty of laughs and commentary as the play progresses. A lot of the comedy is visual, with laugh-out-loud moments as Raz tries to prove to Destiny and Phoenix that he can still cut it as a drag queen in a brilliantly choreographed piece.
Kurtis Stacey is a revelation as Ryan but I suppose he shouldn’t be – he’s an actor for God’s sake! But he is very good, there’s a lovely gentleness to his performance and his ‘transition’ is beautifully done. He looks fabulous and it’s just…well…right!
This is a play that, whilst very entertaining, also makes you think. How would you react in that situation?
The Ruby Slippers really struck a chord with me but even if you’ve never been a drag queen or been involved with the politics and economics of the club scene I highly recommend it.
The Ruby Slippers is on as part of Liverpool Pride and has extended its run until the 28th. The Royal Court Studio is a great space too!