Panti: High Heels in Low Places

Aug 12 2016 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩    Sparkling

Traverse Theatre (Venue 15): Tue 9 – Sun 14 Aug 2016
Review by Joe Christie

Ireland’s reigning monarch sparkles in a performance at the Traverse which is often at odds with its all too civil format.

Panti Bliss has had quite a couple of years. Now a self-proclaimed “national f*cking treasure”, the seasoned drag queen found herself an unlikely figurehead for a movement that shone a light on the latent homophobia within Irish society after the controversial censorship of comments she made on a late-night chat show.

Panti Bliss. Photo Sally Jubb

Panti Bliss. Photo Sally Jubb

This delightful confessional picks apart the aftershocks of a star having so quickly risen. Performer Rory O’Neill smartly pairs fluffy tales of dubious hook-ups and American talk show appearances with the more nuanced insights into queer culture for which Panti has become latterly known. High Heels in Low Places manages levity and weight in equal measure – such fine balance all the more impressive in heels.

Still, what will linger long after the wig has come off is O’Neill’s unrivalled ability to pinpoint and utterly eviscerate the micro-aggressions that the queer community must still endure in the 21st century. A particular section about how straight men now expect an encyclopaedic knowledge of football from the gays slayed the crowd. Confrontational in all the right ways, Panti Bliss is never fiercer than when incensed.

acidic wit

The impact of moving drag from its natural habitat can be felt, though. Drag is raucous. It lives by the livewire energy of the club and its free-spirited clientele. So whilst the lecture elements which make up most of the performance work well in the theatrical setting – largely thanks to the sheer charisma and acidic wit of our queen – there is the pervading feeling that this is all a tad more polite than her majesty would have liked.

None of this is enough to derail what is a fabulous mix of old-school camp and vital cultural commentary from a performer who has very much earned her stripes as a bonafide icon. Panti Bliss knows she has become ‘totem’ for the ongoing progress that is taking place in Ireland – and by God, is she owning it.

Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes.
Travers (Venue 15), 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 9 – Sunday 14 August
Various times: Sat 13: 10.30am, Sun 14: 1.30pm.
Tickets from EdFringe website:
Company website:
Panti on Twitter: @PantiBliss


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