Drag On: an exploration of queer identity @ The Wardrobe Theatre

Photo credit: Chloe Wicks

The intimate space of The Wardrobe Theatre saw James Morgan present Drag On, the one-hour long “loving, fire-breathing exploration of queer identity, fantasy and myth”. Beginning in true RuPaul’s Drag Race style with a full throttle lip sync of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Roman Revenge’, Morgan was the true embodiment of Minaj’s “dungeon dragon” as they appeared dressed as what they labelled to be a ‘Drag Dragon’. The show depicts the harsh realities of a 2018 human-dominated world and plays with the concept of realism itself as an illusion.

Morgan’s fierce entrance in reptilian drag was electrifying and captivating. Their body moving with a fluidity that seemed more animal than human, it was impossible not to be immediately engrossed by their performance. The juxtaposition between their lip-sync and comparably meek tone as they finished their dance and took to the microphone was both amusing and effective. Their humble and innocent introduction — “Hi I’m James and I’ve written you a lecture” — completely supported their later point that people’s expectation that queer people are inherently fierce, funny, and entertaining is delusional.

Photo credit: Chloe Wicks

Despite the performative and informative aspects of the show being executed impeccably, there were moments which caused the vital energy of the show to drop; asking the audience to ‘talk amongst themselves’ whilst someone was chosen to dress up in a knight costume, entering the audience in order for people to roll a dice to choose which fantasy-related story Morgan would read aloud, referring to a script of extracts rather than being off-book — these moments caused the excitement to significantly plummet. Unfortunately, awkward silences and technical difficulties soon overtook the initial vigour and flow that was so prevalent in the beginning.

The mention of RuPaul seemed somewhat inevitable, particularly in light of the recent interview with The Guardian in which he stated he would “probably not” allow a transgender woman on his show, RuPaul’s Drag Race. Morgan proceeded to inform the audience of the irony of drag culture being created by transgender women, only for them to then be discriminated against. Their delivery was enlightening, inspiring, and passionate as the integrity of an iconic spokesperson for drag culture was questioned.

Undoubtedly the content and message of Drag On is alarmingly important and more culturally relevant than ever before. Morgan acts as a voice for the LGBTQ+ community in discussing gender identification and the illusion of freedom, which they suggest is simply the ability to choose between a set of predetermined options. They stress the need to dismantle the categories of men and women and the way in which the art of drag acts as a “public forum to resist gender oppression.”