If These Wigs Could Talk – Abbey Theatre (Peacock) – Review
Dates: 11 November – 3 December
On the Peacock stage
Haunted: 7pm | 4pm matinee 26 November
If These Wigs Could Talk: 9:15pm | 4pm matinee 19 November & 3 December
Running time: 60 minutes each
Photographer – Ruth Medjber
Panti Bliss has become a cultural icon in Ireland over the past ten years. Ever since her speech on the Abbey stage in 2014, she has used her celebrity to further the cause of gay rights and champion the downtrodden in society. She’s done so with a sense of style and a lot of humour. This latest work takes us on a journey from meeting an Ambassador in Vienna to an incident with a large blue Dildo called Girth Brooks at a Harry Potter play, and a whole world between!
Panti is on stage alone throughout the performance as she entertains the audience with her tales of life as the most famous drag queen in Ireland. The stage has a touch of glamour, with a proscenium arch with lights framing our Queen. The back wall of the stage is covered by a full-height curtain and there is a small table on one side of the stage. The set is minimalist but Panti requires little to tell her stories! She’s a veteran of the stage, having worked bars and stages for nearly 30 years. There is minimal crowd interaction but she does call to have the stage lights on at the start of the performance to inspect the audience briefly.
While there is much mirth in her stories, there is also a focus on what it means to be a drag queen. She talks about what she can achieve while wearing a wig and six-inch heels that could never happen while wearing jeans and a t-shirt. She calls this her superpower, as it allows her to point out how ridiculous many aspects of modern life are.
The piece is also something of a call to arms, with the story of her battle with fascists at an event, called Drag Storytime, at a bookshop in Westport during Pride. She told the audience that the extreme right will always pick on the weakest of the group, with the Trans community taking much of the abuse in recent times. She calls for those on the left to never let their guard down, as any privileges and rights won in recent years can be lost just as easily.
Panti has grown relaxed on stage and she is a more polished performer than in her earlier adventures. She knows how to work an audience and draws many laughs along the way. What is surprising, however, is just how well-written this piece is. You expect the comedy, but the depth and quality of insight are more than most theatre shows deliver. For a night of comedy, wit and charm, you need look no further!
Writer and performer: Panti Bliss
Director and Dramaturg: Phillip McMahon
Associate Director:Chris Moran
Set Design: Molly O’Cathain
Costume Design: James David Seaver
Lighting Design: Sinéad McKenna
Sound Design: Jenny O’Malley
Producer: Jennifer Jennings and Laura Rigney
Graphic Design: Niall Sweeney, Pony Ltd
PR: Conleth Teevan
Publicity Photography: Patricio Cassinoni
Promotional Video: Olga Kuzmenko