Comedy Review: Fruit Fly (Leicester Square Theatre, London)

Leslie Jordan himself. Photograph: Courtesy of Kevin Wilson PR.

Leslie Jordan himself. Photograph: Courtesy of Kevin Wilson PR.

Rating: ****

Star of cult film Sordid Lives, and better known as Beverly Leslie, Karen’s frenemy in Will & Grace, Leslie Jordan returns to the capital after his acclaimed show My Trip Down the Pink Carpet hit the West End two years ago. This time he asks the question, ‘Do gay men really become their mothers?’ Drawing on outrageous anecdotes from his childhood and family life, he attempts to answer this. He is also supported by the astonishing vocals of acclaimed drag trio The Supreme Fabulettes.

It’s strange to refer to Leslie as a comedian as he doesn’t technically tell any jokes, but what he ultimately is is an expert storyteller who is very very funny.

What drives the entire show is his charisma and exuberance which, for someone a mere 4’11” tall, is in abundance. But it’s just as well that the stories of his family, childhood, and breakout from the two are brimming with scandal, intrigue, and hilarity. Whilst the laughs don’t come constantly when they do they’re big ones. But between these you are held by Leslie’s infinite charm and wit – he’s a narrator of the highest calibre. His tale provides an unabashed insight into a bygone period of American LGBT life and also a very personal account of growing up gay and campy in the conservative Christian American south, and the turbulent, but loving relationship he has with his devout Baptist mother.

The only problems with the show are minor. Trying to hold an audience’s attention for a full 90 minutes is no mean feat. Whilst on the whole Leslie manages to do this with ease there are one or two occasions his story tips into rambling and you wonder if he’s forgotten the question he posed at the beginning. This seeming lack of structure causes the pace to drag slightly. Also, there are elements of rehearsed spontaneity (something which is oddly indicative of American one-person shows) which are a little irritating, but at least Leslie still manages to stay sincere and down to earth despite these.

On the whole, this is an evening of ineffable charm and laughter. You leave feeling delighted and warmed by such a sweet, if not a very naughty, story told by one of America’s sweetest, if not even naughtier, comic personalities. An exquisite grown-up bed-time ‘fairy’ tale.

Fruit Fly plays at the Leicester Square Theatre, London, WC2H 7BX, until 16 March 2013. Tickets are £20. To book visit www.leicestersquaretheatre.com.

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