Okay, so La Cage Aux Folles doesn’t exactly trip lightly off the tongue, but that is because it is French and translates to The Birdcage. However get over the name because the show is one of the most stunning and heart-warming shows you will ever see.
Georges and Albin run a club known as La Cage Aux Folles and have also been together as a couple for 20 years. They obviously still love each other although Albin can be a bit of a diva now and again, but then he does play Zaza the star of the show at the club. Georges has a 24 years old son from a fling with a woman because you know, he wanted to see what the fuss was all about. His son, Jean-Michel, visits and announces he is getting married. However, the parents of his fiancée, Anne, are very traditional with her father being head of the ‘Tradition, Family and Morality Party’ and they feel homosexuality is a sin. However his son says her parents want to meet his parents and begs Georges to calm down his décor and ask Albin to disappear for a night. Georges agrees reluctantly but is not keen to tell Albin. The story must have been quite shocking in its day (the play was written in 1973) but today I found it shocking for different reasons. Today we have gay marriage and laws against discrimination, yet discrimination still exists. I am not sure if someone would ask their parents to hide who they are in today’s society but maybe I am just more open minded than others. I would be delighted to have Georges and Albin as my parents as they dearly love Jean-Michel.
The show opens to a ‘We are what we are’ (a version of I am what I am) and this is a stunning opening act with Les Cagelles who are a fabulous drag act performing in all their glory; feathers, sequins and high heels galore. It’s a stunning spectacle and this is a glimpse of what you can expect throughout the show as the costume changes are frequent and flamboyant.
Georges is played by Adrian Zmed and he was fantastic in the role. A very natural voice, somewhere between Frankie Valli and Frank Sinatra, he plays the role so well it like a comfortable pair of old shoes (well stylish ones!). He fits it so well. He demonstrates easily his different emotions and on top of that he has a show to run, a diva wife to keep happy and now his son asks something so huge he carries the role with ease. A great performance.
Albin is played by John Partridge. I have always had a soft spot for John since seeing him in A Chorus Line, which was so moving he made me cry. His role in this show is no less emotive and he performs it so well that it epitomises him. He was made for this role. He is so funny and talks to the audience directly as if we are la Cage Aux Folles audience. ‘Don’t you just love it when people dress up for the theatre?’ ‘Where did you get that outfit? Per Una? Wise choice!’ and he encourages praise when he is due to go down a staircase ‘Well if Tess Daley can do it – well she can’t do anything else can she?’. This got a huge roar of laughter from the audience. John plays Albin in a thick northern accent which certainly gave the role some depth. I loved his diva-ishness and how he flounced all over the stage. And in some serious heels! A truly beautiful performance.
The butler who prefers to be a maid is Jacob and played by Samson Ajewofe he is probably the most camp person in the show and believe me, I do not make that statement lightly. He is a real darling and I just love his bitchyness of his role. A black gay maid who wants to be on the stage…just fabulous.
The show features some fabulous numbers such as Song on the Sand, Masculinity, look over there and the best of times as well as the classic I am what I am.
This show is so camp its delicious in its extravagance and most definitely out camps The Rocky Horror Show and Priscilla, Queen of the desert. This is a real feel good show and with the depressing August weather, you need this in your life!
La Cage Aux Folles is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 12 August 2017.