Priscilla the Party, Here at Outernet, 2024
Photo: Marc Brenner
  • Theatre, Immersive
  • Recommended


Priscilla the Party!

3 out of 5 stars

Entertainingly raucous cabaret remix of the hit Aussie musical


Time Out says

New immersive show ‘Priscilla the Party!’ is a fun, loud evening that distills the stage musical adaptation of the classic Aussie drag comedy ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ into a slug of pure cabaret glee.

Though the name and fact you can buy food suggest it might be equivalent to ABBA dining experience ‘Mamma Mia! The Party’, ‘Priscilla the Party!’ is in fact a very different beast. Where ‘MMTP’ is basically dinner with ABBA songs and barely any plot, this is very much a new version of the 2006 jukebox musical, using the same book and again directed by Simon Philliops. Like the musical and the 1994 film, it’s a disco banger-soundtracked yarn that follows two drag queens and a trans woman as they drive their titular tour bus on an odyssey from Sydney to Alice Springs. The food – sliders, nachos and cake – is optional, and doesn’t need to be pre-ordered.

There are changes to the storytelling, primarily the presence of a mistress of ceremonies: in his drag guise Gaye Cliché, Aussie cabaret star Trevor Ashley opens the show with vulgar quips and a curiously detailed explanation of the fact that while we are in 2024, the show is set in 1993. This is a slightly peculiar thing to emphasise: maybe it’s just playing up the nostalgia angle, but I wondered if it was to give cover to some of the more off colour material that’s survived from the film. Some casual bigotry towards trans character Bernadette (Dakota Starr) probably feels more shocking than it would have done 30 years, although probably it should do; but the presence of light relief Asian sex worker character Cynthia (Lucy Park) feels misjudged to the point of actual racism. 

However: it is, on the whole, a lot of fun. The film was camp, but very much a trio of acclaimed hetero male actors flexing their range. This feels a lot more overtly queer, and while I don’t want to start anatomising the casting (though it’s worth noting that Starr is non-binary), the freewheeling sense of cabaret chaos feels like an appropriate way to tell this story in 2024 – even if the almost Victorian chasteness of Bernadette’s blossoming relationship with mechanic Bob (Steven Serlin) feels jarringly quaint. But the fact the audience is free to drift around the room, whoop away to their hearts’ desire, and even grab a drink mid-performance gives it a looseness and informality almost unheard of in the West End.

Importantly, the story’s fundamentals are solid: as mixed-up Tick, aggressively sassy Adam and older, melancholic Bernadette, Owain Williams, Reece Kerridge and Starr have a fun, sparky chemistry that moves charmingly from performative bitchiness to tentative sisterhood. The extremely minimal set does rob the story of a sense of place: Priscilla herself is just a projection on the back wall, a slightly ignominious treatment. But there is compensation in the form of Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner’s dazzling costumes, which are heaps of riotously colourful fun. A quick change section is an absolute hoot. The song selection keeps some of the stuff from the film and musical but switches it up to largely agreeable, cheerily anachronistic effect - ‘Born This Way’ is in there twice.

The audience I saw it with was very much Older Girls Night Out (plus a light smattering of gays) and if that’s the base it’s appealing to then I suspect it’ll run for a good while. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but its devotion to a good time is beyond question.


£39.50-£200. Runs 2hr 45min
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