Anna Hadley reviews Courtney Act - Under the Covers at Edinburgh Fringe.
Courtney Act’s ‘Under the Covers’ invites the audience to get intimate with Courtney (drag alter-ego of Shane Jenek). Most scramble under this duvet willingly. However, if you’re not a Courtney super-fan, this show may leave you sitting out in the cold.
Courtney emerges from her neon-lit bedroom and kicks off her show by singing song covers. Most of which she does stunningly well, as a Drag-Queen she is famous for her gender-bending high range. Her rendition of Amy Winehouse’s Valerie falls flat however, as she fails to convince the audience to sing along. But this could be due to her slot time at 6pm, five overpriced fringe beers later, I am sure the audience would be screaming out the lyrics.
And it is in audience participation that Courtney really thrives. Most of the audience here will know Courtney as the winner of Celebrity Big Brother 2017, or as RuPaul’s Drag Race and Australian Pop Idol alumnus. One of the most successful moments of the show is when Courtney actually disappears off stage, and we are played a side-reel of personal photographs, which her fans seem to really love.
Indeed, the show is set up for the fans she already has. She reveals personal titbits of her life and often warns the audience against posting her comments on social media, which creates a buzz around the room. She playfully takes jibes at other Drag Queens, but she is also serious when she addresses her much publicised relationship with CBB’s Andrew Brady, the alienation she experiences dating as a Drag Queen, and her journey through life as gender-fluid. Although an often raucous and sexy Drag Act, there is always a moralising side to Courtney.
Nevertheless, it must be warned that this is not a stand-alone act. This may already be explicit, as the title of the show presumes her audience is already in the bedroom. But if you do not already know Courtney, I would give this a miss. This is a shame, because last year’s fringe debut ‘Courtney Act: The Girl from Oz’ was a worthwhile introduction. Yet, the star that is Courtney Act (and she is a star, even if I found this show disappointing) shouldn’t just pander to her old audiences, but welcome the new.