RuPaul's Drag Race star Katya Zamolodchikova brings tour to Brighton: what did we think?

RuPaul's Drag Race star Katya Zamolodchikova brought her tour to Brighton's Theatre Royal last night - but what did our reviewer think of the show?

Monday, 1st April 2019, 2:08 pm
Updated Monday, 1st April 2019, 3:56 pm
RuPaul's Drag Race star Katya Zamolodchikova stars in her own one-woman show
RuPaul's Drag Race star Katya Zamolodchikova stars in her own one-woman show

As drag queens go, they don’t get much more famous than Katya.

Or to give her her full title, Yekaterina Petrovna Zamolodchikova: a self-titled ‘bisexual, transvestite Russian hooker’ and breakout star of the reality TV competition RuPaul’s Drag Race.

So when she announced her one-woman show was coming to Brighton, fans clamoured for tickets.

But as the date neared, it was cancelled after Brian McCook - the man behind Katya - went on hiatus to recover from a drug relapse, which he had been candid about on Drag Race and won him many supporters.

Two years later, and the show is back on the road: but was it worth the wait?

The eccentric seductress stuck to the winning formula of her YouTube show UNHhhh with her opener - projections of her face photoshopped on a selection of Soviet bumpkins while she lip synced to a medley of Lana Del Rey, Ariana Grande and Whitney Houston songs in Russian.

A cabaret number about death segued into the jerky-like filling of the show: an appearance by one of McCook’s lesser-known alter egos Trish, an aging Bostonian prostitute who lives in a dumpster. One lucky audience member was treated to a laplance, ending with her doing the splits on her head.

Liberally peppered in-between were videos featuring other Drag Race royalty, such as Bianca Del Rio, UNHhhh co-host Trixie Mattel, and Alaska 5000 - who may well have got the biggest laugh of the night, somewhat embarrassingly - before Katya reemerged to close the show.

While the ending was punctuated with one of her signature splits that raised the roof, it felt so abrupt that many of us waited for an encore that never came.

The truth is, there is a difference between a theatre show and the club gigs which are the bread and butter of Drag Race contestants. Del Rio has made the transition with great success - but this production was just too short and fragmented, with clips and skits which did not fully meld into a cohesive show.

For £40 a ticket to a show which was cancelled 2 years ago and rescheduled, even die-hard fans would expect more than the 75 minutes they were treated to, of which at least a third was pre-recorded video. And of that hour, some of it still dragged - and not the kind of drag I was hoping for. A bloated Game of Thrones parody video was a prime example.

Everyone in the room was there because they loved Katya, and she was just as likable in the flesh as she is on the internet and TV. I just wanted more quality in more quantity.