Director: Jez Dolan
Writer: Chris Hoyle
As part of a year-long heritage project created by the director Jez Dolan, the stage show epitomises what is surely the scheme's mission. It often seems that the modern incarnation of the LGBT Community is a modern entity that lives in isolation from its past, so it's easy to overlook how relevant its history actually is. Drag is at its zenith in Manchester at the moment, but its tradition has been strong for generations. In the city that took Foo Foo Lamar to its heart, Manchester has become a creative hub that breeds artists of every genre and every medium, and the art of drag has been no different. But to learn how drag became so entrenched in the city's DNA is to learn how it can continue to relevant today, daring society to laugh at and appreciate something that does not reflect but exaggerates reality. And in Life's A Drag, by projecting this onto a witty narrative the message is conveyed seemingly incidentally as the play focuses just as much on entertaining its audience through exhibiting the medium it is studying. Because at the end of the day, performative drag exists solely to entertain.
It's not often that you can say you learned as much as you laughed at a show, but this was a play that insisted on underlining the fun that underpins drag. As they led us through an audience karaoke of 'Around The Old Camp Fire', it was clear that while drag tends to be a temporal art form, its gleeful fun is what makes it live on in people's memories. What will make Life's A Drag live on is its sheer entertainment value alongside its more serious purpose. And as meta as it was to hear Wallace talk objectively of the Family Gorgeous on-stage (he is also Anna Phylactic of the Family Gorgeous off-stage), casting his very modern drag counterpoint to a much more classic queen underlined that the modern Manchester Drag Explosion is just a very small piece of a very big pie. And what a wonderful pie it is too.