Cŵm Rag’s Homecoming is one of many shows in the opening season at Cabaret, Wales Millennium Centre’s new venue space. It’s pivotal in WMC’s efforts to provide an inclusive, creative hub showcasing the very best of drag, burlesque, comedy, theatre and more here in Wales. Featuring accessible (and gender-neutral) facilities and a personal bar, I look forward to seeing this space grow.
So, with ‘Cŵm’ as in the Welsh word for valley, and ‘Rag’ as in, well, clothes that are worn-out or tattered, this theatrical ensemble’s name aims to evoke a sense of glamour and extravagance mixed with a gritty, working-class edge – which is exactly what you get in this funny, important and bilingual show. After spending the last decade in London, they’re ready to come home and celebrate/interrogate what it means to be queer and Welsh.
Their pre-show promise to Buzz of “21st-century queer anarchy and good old-fashioned Valleys razzle-dazzle” was, it turns out, the tip of the iceberg. Featuring performances from Welsh icons Catherine Zeta-Jones, Shirley Bassey and Duffy (OK, it wasn’t actually them), Cŵm Rag reels you into the chaotic beauty from the very first moan into the microphone.
The very best and breadth of Cymru was covered, including a rendition of Sosban Fach, the ever-reliable train network and the nation’s favourite crisps, not to mention a fabulous Welsh lesson on fruit names and… eating ass. Halfway through the show, there was an all-important talk from the wonderful TransAid Cymru about the work that they do, and how you can help/donate.
Oberon White, Lasagne Sheets, TransNessa, BopaRhys and CeCe all provide hilarious and talented performances, ones with important political undertones. Special guest performers Alia and Muz, aka Asian Purrrrrsuasion from the iconic Welsh Ballroom Community, additionally make a welcomed appearance. They served up a fantastic performance as well as an energetic vogueing lesson, where members of the audience were able to step into their world and “feel their tens!” An audience highlight however included an intimate and passionate performance from miss CeCe, where taking a step outside, a bucket of water and Beyoncé were all involved… need I say more?
Cŵm Rag have gained a following for their innovative and high-energy shows, and their willingness to push the boundaries of drag performance. Homecoming was a fitting, celebratory and silly piece of Welsh culture and an insight into the evolution and talent that populates this land.
Cŵm Rag: Homecoming, Cabaret @ Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay, Fri 17 Mar
words JOHN EVANS
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