Theatre Review: La Cage Aux Folles

By Julia Parry | 1st June 2017

La Cage Aux Folles

photo by Pamela Raith

The Grand Opera House York has been relocated to Saint Tropez on the French Riviera and has become the infamous drag night club La Cage aux Folles, the audience being very much part of the show.

The live orchestra plays and our compere for the evening Georges (Adrian Zmed) introduces us to the show with, "Open your eyes, for you have arrived at La Cage Aux Folles." Les Cagelles strut their stuff covered in feathers, make up and glitter. The audience are wondering which sex the gloriously glitzy performers actually are.

Unfortunately the magic is broken after the first number when the stage manager reveals a technical hitch with the moving staircase and the performance is momentarily delayed. Soon the lights once again go out and the curtain rises for a second time, we are returned to France and the decadence of La Cage……

La Cage Aux Folles

photo by Pamela Raith

A real French stage farce that was adapted into the musical version in 1982; scripted by the gloriously funny Harvey Fierstein, composed by Jerry Herman and directed by the late Arthur Laurents. The more farcical elements of the original play were pared back and replaced by warm, camp humour and a memorable score, ‘I Am What I Am’ being a worldwide hit for Gloria Gaynor. As well as it’s social and political themes, La Cage …. is a true celebration of drag; bristling with warmth, fun and affection.

The story is essentially about love: a long standing love affair between two gay men. A mother’s unconditional love for a son fathered by his partner but rejected by his birth mother( All the more poignant when you know that John Partridge has very recently lost his own mother).The warmth and love exuded to by the friends and neighbours of the couple and the complete tolerance and acceptance of them for the people they are.

The farcical element returns when the son Jean-Michel (Dougie Carter) falls in love with Anne (Alexandra Robinson) whose puritanical politician father (Paul F Monaghan) is on a quest to eradicate the gay night-life of Saint Tropez. The vibrant lifestyle of Georges and Albin (John Partridge) has to be covered up when the two sets of parents meet….. needless to say, chaos ensues! The maid Jacob (Samson Ajewole) is hysterically funny with his exuberant mannerisms and slick one liners.

Marti Webb plays Jacqueline, a high end restaurateur who loves La Cage and its star Albin, she courts publicity for her restaurant and is delighted to host the celebratory meal for the young couple. More farce develops during the meal at Jacqueline’s who is a closet singer and will join in whenever the urge takes her.

La Cage Aux Folles

photo by Pamela Raith

The absolute star of the show is John Partridge as Albin - he shines and radiates glamour and stardom with his flamboyant extravaganza of a performance. His comedic timing is impeccable as is his warmth and vulnerability. At the close of Act 1 he sings ‘I Am What I Am’, his incredible voice soaring all around the sold out auditorium, the audience left exhausted for his bleeding of the song, their cheers quite deafening.

By the end of the second act the whole audience were on their feet, clapping and cheering with appreciation, giving an ovation worthy of such a sparkling, feelgood production. This is the first time La Cage has toured and it is a production not to be missed.

La Cage Aux Folles runs until 3 June with matinees today and Saturday 1t 2:30 and evening performances at 7:30pm. Tickets can be booked by clicking below.

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