Sunday 30 October 2016

Return to Grey Gardens, Manchester

I'm a bit late in writing this, but I was recently lucky enough to see the fabulous Jinkx Monsoon and Peaches Christ perform in Return to Grey Gardens in Manchester!

The show was a drag tribute to the original cult documentary film Grey Gardens  shot by the Maysles brothers in 1975. 

Featuring mother and daughter, Big Edie and Little Edie Beale, the film follows the two women as they coexist in the crumbling remains of their once grand East Hampton home Grey Gardens surrounded by dozens of cats and raccoons and the debris of decades of neglect and lack of money. It's fascinating to watch and there's something both touching and inspiring in the way Little Edie fashions new outfits out of a jumble of ragtag items topped with her remaining Tiffany brooch.

The film is full of classic one liners as both women argue and make up, sing and dance their way through each monotonous day. The stage show reenacted whole sections of beloved dialogue from the film perfectly and I loved how Jinkx, with the perfect upper crust Manhattan drawl, put her own spin on Little Edie as the beleaguered daughter Little Jinkxy, with dreams of stardom forced to stay with her manipulative Drag Mother Big Peachy.

Return to Grey Gardens was the perfect homage to the film, never poking fun at the two women who inspired it, always tongue in cheek but at times poignant too. Little Jinkxy belting out I Dreamed a Dream to her rooftop raccoon audience was stunning, funny and when you think about it, right on the money, as Little Edie was a performer at heart who never got to fulfill her calling.

Peaches Christ looked amazing and was great as the pushy matriarch who cooks a mean corn and takes a little too much delight in the handy man Jerry (played with panache by Team GB athlete Matt Lister!) and I loved how the show made good use of local talent to fill the roles of birthday party guests, cats and the Beale's famous cousin Jackie O! All the performances were brilliant and it looked like everyone was having the best fun ever. Special mention goes to Manchester creative Bren O Callaghan who not only produced the show but starred in it as the camera toting David Maysles.

I'd been excited to see the show for months and in the run up I drew Jinkx as Little Jinkxy, which I'm pleased to say she loved and she also re-posted on her Instagram.

I'd have loved to have made the after show party STAUNCH which happened at Islington Mill but it wasn't to be, fortunately I was able to live vicariously through this backstage video filmed at the Mill before the girls went on stage and Peaches has some interesting things to say about the show and why the film appeals to the drag/gay scene so much.

Top marks to everyone involved, we certainly had loads of fun and loved dressing up to be in the audience, I'll never listen to 'Stay' by Rihanna in the same way again, it was so so good.