Two drag queens fall in love with HIV in the background, meanwhile giving us one heckuva great drag show mélange lip synching to songs by every diva born
If you are inclined to religious traditions, start praying for Juwon Tyler Perry and D. Shea Peterson. This writer is sending these understudies fortifying chi wishes through cyberspace, to help them some day walk in the impossibly high heels of playwright Terry Guest, who plays Courtney/Anthony, and Story Theatre’s Co-Artistic Director Paul Michael Thomson who plays Vickie/Hunter in AT THE WAKE OF A DEAD DRAG QUEEN.
You’d have to be a stone not to be lured in by Guest’s and Thomson’s charms – or perhaps a homophobe—as you share their love story born in the back stage of a Georgia drag show. There isn’t a ball gown or sexpot costume they don’t seem to own and wear with flare. There isn’t a diva ever born that they haven’t each been lip synching to since they discovered their drag queen longings.
Courtney/Anthony knows s/he’s a dazzler and plays with us in a way that is so darn expert in sensing that line where the audience can be pulled in without wanting to run for protection from the fourth wall. This queen wants you to have fun—even in his title funeral, which you know is coming all along and also know it’s going to be a celebration. Guest chides you, in fact, (to paraphrase)—“Hey if you are looking for sadness and sentimentality go watch The Philadelphia Story!”
The Story Theatre Shines a Light on the Continuing AIDS epidemic
Though you know a funeral is coming, and that this is an update to the themes of how The Plague robs us of so many of the best and the brightest, it still creeps up on us slowly. Like the two fun loving characters, we sense HIV’s presence more from a stolen glance here or there. If you, like this writer, could barely suppress sobs while watching A Normal Heart or Philadelphia Story, know that your bigger challenge AT THE WAKE OF A DEAD DRAG QUEEN is trying to give your smile muscles a break. You too may also appreciate the script’s nuanced update on Georgia culture and what the black/white divide looks like in a purpling state.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves
Terry Guest as Courtney Berringers and Paul Michael Thomson as Vickie Versailles.
Juwon Tyrel Perry understudies Mr. Guest, and Shea Petersen understudies Mr. Thomson.
Playwright: Terry Guest
Director: Mikael Burke
Assistant Director: Ayanna Bria Bakari*
Stage Manager: Lucy Whipp
Assistant Stage Manager: Cecilia Koloski
Scenic Designer: Alyssa Mohn
Sound Designer: Sam Clapp
Production Designer: Racquel Postiglione
Lighting Designer: Kyle Cunningham
Costume Designer: Uriel Gómez
Intimacy Consultant: Sasha Smith
Head of Diversity, Inclusion, & Outreach: Sydney Haliburton
Additional Producers: Matt Bowdren*, Eric Kirkes, Nadine Merheb, Brenna Welsh*
*denotes Ensemble member
Thru September 22
7:30pm Thursday—Saturday evenings
3 pm Sunday matinees
6157 N Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60660