Stage: Lilly Slaptsilly’s I’m Gagging – Craft Burger Bar, 63 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town (every Wednesday)
and at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre on October 18, 19 and 20.
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
THE Cape’s Clive Allardyce, in wig, frock and killer heels, first made a name for himself as leggy Lilly Slaptsilli when she was one half of the excellent Mince drag lip-sync duo which also starred where-is-she-now Keiron Legacy.
That crack team, born when singer and show producer David Kramer needed a fill-in production in 1995 at Cape Town’s Dock Road Theatre, then went on to become resident at the Mother City’s now-defunct On Broadway venue. The gals were there for more than 18 years and also travelled extensively locally and abroad, but they split a few years ago.
Last year Lilly returned with a solo lip-sync show, Shenanigans – it had two seasons in Durban as well – and then, last December, she debuted I’m Gagging at Cape Town’s Craft Burger Bar, owned by former On Broadway owner Russell Shapiro.
I’m Gagging marked Lilly’s debut in the world of standup comedy, something Clive had always wanted to do but felt nervous about, thinking he might have overstretched himself.
He needn’t have had any worries, though, because he’s a natural, and the show is going great guns at the small Craft Burger Bar branch in Buitengracht Street. There, not only Mince fans but a whole new crowd of diverse patrons are being wowed weekly by the novelty of a sassy queen tickling the funnybones.
Ungagged started as a regular Sunday attraction at Craft Burger Bar but is now performed every Wednesday evening, on a tiny, raised, box-like stage with a sequinned fabric backdrop. It’s positioned at the far end of the narrow venue.
The intimacy works like a charm, Lilly making her entrance as soon as she is dropped off by her chauffeur, long-suffering pal Shaza Sha. (Catch the amusing, weekly live video posts of the car journey to the theatre on Lilly’s Facebook page).
Slaptsilli is a truly ab fab creation: all glitter and glam, with plenty of nudges and winks, much sass and oodles of sex appeal. She pokes fun at herself, other people and quirky situations she has experienced both as a drag queen and a casual observer.
She also takes a few good-natured swipes at her audience. But most take the powder-puff-light pats on the chin with a grin. Some love the teasing, among them a group of women at a table alongside mine the night I was in – they so lapped up the attention that they ordered tequila shots for Lilly throughout her hour-long routine.
The slinky Miss S first slithers on stage after snaking through her audience lip-syncing to a gutsy rendition of Feeling Good. She then lurches into a smile-a-second outpouring of humour which ends with another classic lip-sync, to Ruth Brown’s innuendo-filled tale of an easy chair that ain’t for sale.
Lilly’s easy comedy, sometimes with outrageous actions and expressions, as well as a variety of accents, changes from time to time, as do her outfits and wigs. The night I was in mirth was milked from topics including begging Bergies, insomnia, Jewish princesses appreciating a freebie, and the differences between gay and straight airline stewards.
Lilly also raised smiles with chat about an exploding suitcase of drag queen outfits; naughty teen boys causing havoc on a plane; jockeys; traffic cops and the time she was almost arrested in Namibia for her bird-seed filled boobs.
It’s camp, it’s clever and it’s commendable – and the party continues after the show with Lilly mingling among her guests and encouraging them to pose with her for photos on her little stage. She invariably posts these happy snaps on her Facebook page later.
Admission is R100 a head for the show, with the burgers extra.
The grub at the venue is pretty good, too. You can build a burger or choose from “handcrafted options” that include one named after Durban comedian Carvin H Goldstone (a R124 beef burger with cheddar, camembert and blue cheese, sautéed onion, and a dollop of tangy mayo). My partner gave that a thumbs up, but I opted for The Big Boys, a yummy R124 bun with beef topped with bacon, cheddar and mushrooms.
Dinner is served from 6.30pm and the show, which is restricted to over-18s, starts at around 8pm (8.30pm in summer, I hear).
I would recommend booking as the venue is tiny. Phone Craft Burger Bar at (021) 424 0082. For more info, pictures and videos visit http://www.facebook.com/BestBurgers
NOTE FOR DURBAN FANS: I’m Gagging, in an extended form to allow for an interval, will be presented at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre on October 18, 19 and 20. For bookings or any further details phone Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.