★★★★★ | Southern Baptist Sissies, Above the Stag Theatre, London
There’s something in the holy water at a Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas because all of the boys there are gay. And they’re not the only ones who have a story to tell. It all unravels in Southern Baptist Sissies, the new show at Above the Stage Theatre.
Southern Baptist Sissies is actually two shows in one. Four boys live in a religious community where they spend their days praying and the rest of the time all they can think about are other boys! Then in a very hilarious, emotional and witty way, we see these boys grow up to become young men, full of passion, love and in one case, regret. Separately there are scenes set in a gay drag bar where two barflies have a conversation about their lives, their adventures and their regrets while the young men from the church segments portray other characters in the bar. It’s genius!!!
Southern Baptist Sissies cleverly intertwines both stories while we get to know a bit about each character. Mark (Jason Kirk) does an outstanding job as the narrator who is also in love with the very sexy and muscular TJ (Daniel Klemens), whose other character is a sexy go go boy in the gay drag bar. James Phoon is a revelation as Benny, the most feminine of the boys, yet as alter ego Miss Iona Taylor, he’s the star of the show at the drag bar. The scene where’s he’s disrobing while pouring his heart out is absolutely stunning. And last but not least there is Andrew (Hugh O’Donnell), a sensitive young man who unfortunately has a very disapproving mother (Janet Prince). Don Cotter (as Preston) and Julie Ross (as Odette) are brilliant as the couple who exchange stories at the bar; two older people looking back at the past while contemplating what’s left of their future, with Preston always ogling the young men in the bar. It’s all fantastically put together in a fab script by Del Shores and superb direction by Gene David Kirk.
After a few mediocre shows, Above the Stag has really upped their game with this show. It’s funny, relevant, emotional and at the end literally had the audience in tears. There are still tickets left for a few performances – BOOK THEM NOW – it’s a show you definitely don’t want to miss! If, and when, this show sells out, hopefully Above the Stag will be able to re-stage it when they move to a larger venue just down the road. More people really need to see this show.
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Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.