Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Wednesday 09 August 2017

Diana In Drag: Freddie Mercury & Kenny Everett Took Princess Out For The Night Of Her Life

It's 1988 and London is partying hard under the spectre of AIDS, the scrutiny of the press and the promise of a summer of love.

When Princess Diana dreams of a wild night out away from relentless paparazzi and ruthless Royals, her unlikely best friends Freddie Mercury and Kenny Everett know there is only one place to take her…the only trouble is: how the hell are they going to get one of the most famous faces in the world into the RVT without blowing her cover?

The trio's night at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern is the stuff of urban legend. But this actually happened. Kenny and Freddie took Lady Di clubbing at the RVT. 

Desmond O'Connor's irreverent yet insightful new musical envisages what they learnt about themselves and each other and how it would shock and propel them through the final years of their tragically shortened lives.

Royal Vauxhall is a wild romp of a musical which plays out the imagined events of the true story of the night Freddie Mercury and Kenny Everett took Princess Diana in drag to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. 

The story, widely reported in the press following the revelation by Cleo Rocos in her 1998 autobiography, is used as a springboard to delve into the lives of three of the most famous faces of Britain in the 1980s. 

This fun (and funny) musical - which juxtaposes a celebration of 1980s alternative culture, alongside the more serious issues it confronts - enjoyed a four week run on the Edinburgh Fringe, where it delighted audiences and critics alike. 

For this 20th anniversary tour the part of Diana will be recreated by Carrie Marx, Kenny Everett will be brought to life by Joe Morrow  and Freddie Mercury will be played with passion and panache by Desmond O'Connor.

As the night unfolds the story explores the iconic virtues and complex issues surrounding all three characters.

Lady Diana Spencer was the fairy-tale princess who was unloved her husband and his family. In an era before reality TV, the royal family were the first reality stars and Diana embodied the concept of celebrity.

Diana's private life has been dissected and scrutinised, but little has been revealed about the secret life of the princess who loved to party hard. 

Adrift in an effervescent haze of cocaine and champagne, over the course of Royal Vauxhall Diana delves deep within herself to create the People's Princess who will be unveiled by Martin Bashir in his famous 1995 interview before going on to confront the royal family and beat them at their own game.

Freddie Mercury needs little introduction – immortalised as one of the most important rock gods of the 20th century. 

In 1998 he was at the top of his game as a global rock legend; but was about to discover the fatal new risks of a life of sexual excess. 

And then there was Kenny. People have all but forgotten Kenny Everett, but he was actually a superstar until...he wasn't. 

Everett was the highest paid and most influential British DJ and entertainer of his generation, but his private life was in tatters as he sued his ex-wife for libel when she made his sexuality public, in a case that echoed Oscar Wilde's fall from grace 100 years before him. 

When his sexuality was ultimately revealed, the gay community felt betrayed and his heterosexual fans deserted him. 

As a result, Kenny Everett has still not received recognition for his role in launching the careers of acts such as Queen and Kate Bush, and helping significantly with at least one of David Bowie's career revivals. 

This new musical aims to honour his memory and the memory of his two best friends; and initiate the process of reviving Kenny's status and reputation in the eyes of the British public.

Royal Vauxhall highlights the relationship between Freddie and Kenny; what it meant to be gay and out (or not) in the 1980s. 

The work also examines how AIDS made gay men the common enemy of the decade, just as immigrants had been feared in the 1960s and the IRA was abhorred in the 70s.

Royal Vauxhall was developed and first aired at the RVT, the celebrated gay pub where this notorious event actually took place and one of the few iconic gay cabaret venues still going strong. 

The show was written partly in response to the widespread closing of iconic gay and gay friendly pubs and clubs in London and around the country, including The Black Cap and Madame JoJo's. 

It explores the need for safety and sanctuary for minority communities as well as for famous people who need a place to hide.

Royal Vauxhall at Komedia Brighton on Tuesday 29th August 2017 at 7pm and 9pm. CLICK HERE for more info.

by: Mike Cobley


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