Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: Dizney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody, The Hairy Godmothers, Prague Fringe 2023 ★★★★★

Ever wondered if the fairy tales of your childhood actually had some problematic messages sprinkled into them? With verve and gusto, The Hairy Godmothers dish up a glorious reclamation-parody of your favourite childhood stories with pertinent and present queer revelations buried in between.

Don’t be misled however – though the piece does challenge the narrative of classics like Snow White and Peter Pan, the focus of the troupe is on flaunting fun and fancy, with original songs twisting your memories of Beauty and the Beast among many into hysterical, strap-on wielding hilarity. The costumes are fantastic, the performances are riotous, and the atmosphere is incredible. This is a musical drag pantomime on acid, with queer joy at its’ heart.

We follow the story of a relatively blank-slate character called ‘The Hero’, who is on a quest to find their one true love. Within minutes, a whole host of pun-derful characters (some you may well recognise) burst onto stage to try and fit into The Hero’s glass slipper. The utterly scene-stealing Hairy Godmother appears to guide The Hero on their way – with a Mary Poppins-esque dress from which she can withdraw all manner of useful items for their quest. Not least, several tinnies of the finest grog.

The irreverent, fierce, and quite possibly coked up ‘Miss White’ struts from the back of the audience, and it isn’t long before she’s recruited a band of theatre-goers to become some of her merry followers. With ridiculous fake beards and hastily rehearsed dance moves, it’s a hoot. Not long after, we see Pan, the boy who never wants to grow up, as well as the hilarious ‘Jazzman’ in a sequence that laments about the perils of online dating and people not quite being who you expected, but trying to make it work anyway.

The whole affair culminates in a merry number led by a rambunctious parody of Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston, ‘Strapon’, which I will leave to your imagination (or not, should you do as I suggest and go to see this hilarious performance). The Hairy Godmothers wrestle with the expectations we have of our childhood heroines and heroes, and make us question whether they were always giving off the right kind of messages.

The musical performances throughout are delivered with such a gung-ho ethos that you can’t help find yourself wrapped up in the silliness of it all, with a cheekily smart underlying satirical tone that catches your intellect when you least expect it.

Dizney in Drag is a labour of love, with what is clearly a great deal of affection involved for the source material, while still taking on what matters most – how can we challenge narratives that box us in to expectations of who we are and who we have to love. All the while, the piece carries such a piece of whimsical verve that utterly entraps you. Special props go to the costume design, which shows a great deal of craft and builds a playful-fanciful universe that utterly engorges you.

Whimsically witty, outrageously over-the-top, and beautifully detailed – this is an effortlessly pulled-off parody with a hell of a lot of heart.

Recommended Drink: Shake up a tinnie of your favourite lager and crack it open with the Hairy Godmother, right on cue.

Performance of Dizney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody have now concluded at Prague Fringe. Catch the gang again at EdFringe next month, Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (Big Yin), Aug 3-6, 8-13, 15-20 & 22-27 (18:30). Tickets are available through the Edinburgh Fringe Box Office.

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2024), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023-24), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them