THEATRE / Get Hur - Drill Hall, London WC1

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The Independent Culture
Gladrags and bad gags are the name of the game in Bloolips' dragged up version of Ben Hur. Setting up Roman camp, these Queens of the Nile refuse to pay even lip(stick?) service to the butch original. In their interpretation, the Emperor Hadrian is triumphantly outed when he engages Daphne, a sybil, to investigate the death of his lover Antinous, the slave with the luminous buttocks. It's rickety stuff: Ray Dobbins's script all but dispenses with plot in its eagerness to showcase the cast's whoops- ducky campery, though the action is punctuated by some gloriously contrived songs ('We're cleaners of Caesar's/We pick things up with tweezers . . .'). But even the growing suspicion that the cast are playing merely magnified versions of themselves doesn't quite stifle the snorts of laughter that their outrageous milking of jokes ('Do you always work in shifts?' 'Yes, I find them more comfortable') inspires. The glam star of the show, Bette Bourne, is weak and downbeat as the Swanson-esque Hadrian: his limelight is thoroughly stolen by Precious Pearl's ever- so-precious Antinous, and by Gretal Feather and Ivan in a series of camp cameos as randy servants and supporters of the great god Sandy. Sophisticated this isn't, but the cast do present the material with a winning if superficial polish. Laugh, ducky? I almost smudged my mascara.

To Oct 3 (071-637 8270)

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