Despite its tagline of 'high hopes, high heels, high drama', the 'Frockumentary of the year' Dressed as a Girl is not quite the feel-good celebration of East London drag culture you might expect. Instead, London-based director Colin Rothbart offers an intimate and personal portrait of the people behind the glitter and costumes.
After a near-death experience, performer Jonny Woo recovered to assemble an army of unique performers. Acting as ringmaster of the 'big old glittery circus' he worked hard to bring drag culture out of the fringe and into the mainstream. The film follows six years in the life of Woo and his troupe of alternative stars: Scottee, Holestar, Pia, Amber and John Sizzle, culminating in their performances at The Royal Opera House and Hackney Empire.
Although the film proffers a fair share of raucous gigs and camp comedy, it doesn't shy away from the dark side of the lives on display. The stars open up about the pressures of a world where 'everyone is fabulous… and no one is ill' and presents candid insights into the individual motivations behind the desire to perform.
Though it risks a loss of momentum towards the middle, Dressed as a Girl is kept going by the appeal of its personal narratives. As it progresses, an honest picture of a community of hard working performers emerges, as they compete with and support one another through struggles and triumphs. Rothbart's is also a film tinged with nostalgia, offering as it does an insight into London's increasingly commercialised drag scene.
Whilst the film's in-depth accounts of family problems, addiction and gender confusion are sometimes harrowing, Dressed as a Girl is an important film, and Rothbart presents a powerful – and ultimately warm – portrayal of a critical moment in London’s drag history and the people behind it.
|What||Dressed As A Girl documentary review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
02 Oct 15 – 01 Dec 15, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go to the Dressed As A Girl film site|