Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: Happily Ever Poofter, Rich Watkins, Prague Fringe 2024 ★★★★☆

Citizens! It is time to join Prince Henry on a mission to leave his Fairytale homeland far far away behind him, and traverse the gay scene to find his happily ever after. A love letter to Disney classics, Gay men and Queer people of all kinds, Happily Ever Poofter both pokes fun at and shares the adoring abundance of Queer joy that can be extracted from your favourite childhood Disney classics.

With frivolous chaotic fancy, Prince Henry invites us on his prance through the looking glass into the gay scene, soundtracked by an adapted back-catalogue of Disney tunes. Watkins’ Henry begins as the disillusioned young prince eager to step foot into the world of Queer-inclusive clubs, and to try and find a Prince to call his own. With goofy charm turned confronting reality we soon watch a young man coming to terms with the realities of hedonism, chem-sex, and what it means to be “on the scene”.

All the highs and lows are gleefully framed in a fantastical imagination. Watkins uses a wide range of props, audience members, and musical numbers to offer up delicious Queer joy in equal balance with measured critiques of the treatment of LGBTQIA+ people by the political establishment. His voice is fantastic, offering a wide musical range, and it is clear he revels in the opportunity to poke fun at the heteronormativity of both fairytales and the political establishment.

Some of your Dinsey favourites – from the Jungle Book’s ‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King’ to Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’ are re-worked into Henry’s narrative with irreverent glee from both Watkins and the audience, as he re-works the classic Disney Hero’s journey narrative arc into a Queer pastiche, from nightclubs to dating apps, The whole premise is totally captivating for the audience, who also sometimes were seemed just as bewildered by seeing their childhood stories morphed and re-shaped. Watkins holds the room for the entire hour, however, with impish charm, as he traverses the stage and cabaret-style seating in his massive high heel boots.

What comes through above all however, is Watkins’ mission to make the audience party to the journey, both revering elements of the Gay scene and how it opens a door for expression and intimacy, while also shining a light on the difficulties young people face entering it, the effects of partying non-stop on the body and mind, as well as how we can find Queer liberation through normalising our identities in heteronormative spaces (in this case, Prince Henry’s homeland).

This is never done with a heavy hand however, preferring a light and inviting touch to the themes, which are meddled in with moments of utter hilarity. Henry drags an audience member on stage for a one-on-one date, causing much raucous pantomime-style enjoyment from everyone involved. Nods to both local and international Queer spaces adds a neat touch – a wink, and a smile to those in the know.

The various costume reveals and constant use of gag props – think ripping off his shirt to reveal a spiky harness in one section, to flapping open two gigantic fans that read ‘Fierce’ and ‘Queen’ – add iconic and unforgettable moments to this rip-roaring musical one-man extravaganza. Not a moment is wasted, not a corner of the LGBTQIA+ landscape left neglected, and it’s a glorious, inclusive space to step into for an hour.

Recommended Drink: Pop open a bottle of Poppers and huff along to your favourite Disney classics. Don’t forget to always huff responsibly!

You can catch Happily Ever Poofter until the 1st of June as part of Prague Fringe. Tickets are available through the Prague Fringe Box Office. Happy Pride Month!

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