Nancy: On Drag

Original Showing: Edinburgh Fringe
Review By: Brian Merriman

Blundagardens and Magical SpiegelYurt
Duration: 1 hour

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‘Nancy: On Drag’ is not a drag show. Nancy, like her solo show, is much more than that. To begin, it is staged in a we knew it was going to be different! The show’s concept began as a lecture on the history of drag, but quickly morphed into an autobiographical story that zips through stereotypes, history and gender conformity with an intelligence much need in today’s toxic binary ‘wars’.

Nancy is a statuesque trans performer who appears without her make-up, to reveal to us, Nancy’s story. Born ‘Tom’ in Burnley, Nancy takes us through a childhood there and the self-realisation of adolescence when ‘Tom’ and the emerging Nancy, did not sit well with each other.

Nancy is no single label, but embraces many and all. Nancy is opinionated and an advocate for self realisation, unrestricted by gender conformity. You may agree or not, but the narrative is well thought out, intelligent and compelling, as we get to know the Nancy that was, and has now become.

Having fled Burnley to Berlin, the script is peppered with ‘I Am A Camera’ nostalgia, a sharp look at gender history, Himmler, and the strong view that the consent of this generation is necessary for much of what the world takes for granted today.

We are treated to burlesque, striptease, comedy, drag and truth in equal measure. Nancy has an easy way with an audience. It is almost casual, but do not just be beguiled by the charm of the strong stage presence. Nancy has a story to tell, it is well structured, strongly delivered and thought provoking. Nancy may not just be ‘On Drag’ but Nancy is most definitely on top form! This is a story that has emerged from her burlesque works in Berlin that is wonderfully anarchic. It’s what challenging modern ‘drag’ should be, and what is needed to understand the complexities of identity and self-expression today.

Nancy’s bio proclaims, a self-confessed ‘mad tranny’: ‘With my performances, I want to experience the full scope of my being and embrace the entirety of my non-binary self. The future is non-binary, after all”. Nancy makes a compelling and entertaining case with a fine theatre line, that pushes the boundaries of a more traditional ‘scope of being’ with music, drama, comedy and pathos added to fine effect.