Forget the strictly amateur-night notion of drag as singalonga-big-hair or karaoke in feathers. Lypsinka is something else. Stalking, strutting and prowling through a dazzling array of supper-club chanteuses, TV show hostesses and B-movie divas, ex-American Ballet Theatre pianist, John Epperson, transforms himself into the lounge act from hell . . . without saying a word.
For the first few minutes you simply admire the technique as Epperson tears into a succession of roles on the intercut soundtape that fills the theatre. Flick-knife legs, outstretched arms, every eyelash is choreographed. And then something strange begins to happen. The material grows wilder and you stop trying to guess who he's portraying. The show takes on an edge of danger as the thought steals over you that this is beyond mere impersonation, this is personification.
Whether fervently thanking TV audiences for their generosity, or answering the phone, Lypsinka immortalises the toils, tears and triumphs of an almost lost generation of songstresses. Like Ethel Merman and Mary Martin's famous 12-minute duet/romp through the entire history of American musical theatre, this is both a celebration of showbiz and a state-of-the-art critique on showbiz shtick and sincerity. As Gershwin put it, 'Who could ask for anything more?'
The Fabulous Lypsinka Show is at the Drill Hall, Chenies St, WC1 until 4 June
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