Glorious deadpan cast bolstered by excellent leads in La Cage Aux Folles (3 stars)

La Cage Aux Folles

John Partridge as Zaza and Adrian Zmed as Georges / credit: Matt Martin

For a stage show based on gay culture and the refusal to compromise it's mired in safe, mainstream colours

The Broadway smash hit by Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein shimmies back with pin-sharp direction by Martin Connor, and dazzling candy shop style from Gary McCann. When Georges (Adrian Zmed) a gay nightclub owner finds his only son returning to announce his engagement, he feels trepidation- not only is he – quelle horreur! – marrying a woman, but her father Dindon (Paul F Monaghan) is an ultra-conservative, religious bigot. Morals frot up against high farce, as Georges' queeny partner Albin (John Partridge) refuses to un-sissy his strut, instead opting to play Mummy.

A gloriously deadpan cast are bolstered by excellent leads. Partridge works the crowd with his huge voice and consummate charm; Zmed's great at exasperated, well-meaning reactions. There is hilarious, subversive support from surely the most willing black 'maid' in history, Jacob (Samson Ajewole) who gets some of the finest sight gags – and costumes.

Ironically though, for a stage show based on gay culture and the refusal to compromise in the face of right-wing resistance, it's mired in safe, mainstream colours. It's not really gritty enough, a little chaste. Some of the tunes don't help – too saccharine and middle of the road to even be kitsch. But the title track has a spiky Weimar Republic undercurrent, and it's a hard heart that remains unmoved by Partridge's elegiac, yet ultimately triumphant rendition of Gay Pride anthem 'I Am What I Am'. Even today, not everyone gets the happy ending of Georges and Albin, but La Cage is at is best a poignant plea for love and family in all forms.

Kings Theatre Glasgow, 25-29 July, then touring.

La Cage Aux Folles

Bill Kenwright's production sees Eastenders' star John Partridge take on the role of Albin alongside Broadway actor Adrian Zmed as Georges in this witty musical number about drag artists and family values, in which the characters are forced to cover up their vibrant lifestyle.

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