The Speigeltent is well known for whimsy, a characterful stage showcasing the very best of comedy, cabaret, and clownery at the epicentre of Brighton’s queer scene. To my delight, the House of Fun has made a return to the Fringe calendar once again, following rave reviews and high acclaim in previous years.
We were treated to an evening filled with drag talent like no other – a glorious troupe of performers took to the stage like fish to water, beginning with Brighton’s Big Drag Pageant winner Tarys Mongardi. With leopard print thigh high boots and arms gloved in vibrant zebra print, Tarys tap danced her way through a delightful scat singing number, concluding her musical ode with a triumphant jump splits.
The second act announced themselves in a bejeweled boilersuit, sporting stubble that would give even Gary Barlow a run for his money. Swinging a wet rag and a macho attitude, a gradual strip ensued, with a near naked finale revealing nothing but an industrial harness and a pair of heavy duty Timberlands. It was playful, subverting the femme archetype we expect into a burly act with a glimpse of camp and a smattering of grit.
Hailing from down under, another queen wore a glam glittery two piece and a blonde ringlet wig that Sandy would wear with pride (post Grease glow up). Holding an assortment of hula hoops aloft, she spun rings in every which way, from knees to heels, and handstand to… audience, blessing us with a second to none performance. The following acts spanned aerial aerobics to a fully fledged (and fully functioning) whoopie cushion fit, an assembly of queens performing to rounds of raucous applause, ending with a standing ovation.
After the interval, Alfie sauntered back on stage with what looked like a small pinot grigio, raising a toast “because I like to drink on the job”. With some polite crowd work under his fishing wire cinched belt, Alfie transitioned into his final and signature look, Tinky Winky. Resplendent as it is, the glitter isn’t without its politics. Described as “the original disruptors of children’s television”, the Teletubbies were unwittingly associated with queer culture, with a 1999 article titled “Tinky Winky Comes Out of the Closet” denouncing the show in earnest.
Alfie addresses this homophobia both onstage and online, advocating for queer liberation and honest outrage. We ended the show in the spirit of resistance and a shower of balloons soundtracked by Frankie Valli’s anthem “I can’t take my eyes off of you”. My gaze is fully locked on your stage, Alfie –and I’m eagerly awaiting next year already.
- Show: Alfie Ordinary’s House of Fun
- Venue: The Spiegeltent
- Review date: 6 May 2022