Anna Hadley reviews Help! I Think I Might Be Fabulous at Edinburgh Fringe.
Like every self-identifying heterosexual female who appropriates queer culture and ruins it for everyone else, I have to admit that drag cabaret is my favourite genre at the Edinburgh Fringe. So I was very excited to see Alfie Ordinary’s Help! I Think I Might Be Fabulous.
And I was right to be excited, because this show is an hour of pure campy fun, the bulk of which consisted of queer anthems performed by Alfie on a piano. (Actually, his voice is rather sophisticated). Alfie channels the souls of Whitney Houston and Bette Midler, who make an appearance as hand puppets. Bette Midler’s windswept rendition of ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ via a floor fan, was a particular highlight.
Of course, there was a serious subtext to Help! I Think I Might Be Fabulous. We are reminded that Alfie Ordinary, sequinned playsuit and all, is a figment of the imagination. He is a realisation of a world without heteronormativity or patriarchal masculinity. But his subtext is soon undercut by a confetti canon, which I can’t fault him for. Even if Alfie Ordinary cannot exist outside the paradigm of the stage, it is cathartic to see him even for an hour.
Ultimately, this show makes being fabulous accessible. Although much of cabaret is notoriously risqué, this is family entertainment which doesn’t cut too deep. Most of the audience seemed to be with their mums. And I mean that as a good thing. This show stresses that to be queer is to be fabulous, and that you’re especially fabulous if you present as femme. (This isn’t such a simplistic message when we consider the prevalence of ‘Masc 4 Masc’ – when queer men on dating websites state that they prefer ‘masculine’ men). So the wider his audience, the wider his message. Alfie Ordinary is basically doing us a public service.