As the audience file into Drag Queens vs Vampires, Haus of Dench’s follow-up to last year’s sell-out Drag Queens vs Zombies, the central drag duo of Crudi Dench and Kate Bush trade innuendos with the crowd while distributing helpful in-flight safety booklets featuring a plane shaped like a penis.
Innuendos at a drag show might not come as much of a shock, but with their triumphant second show after last-year’s smashing proof of concept, Haus of Dench have found a riotously entertaining way to splice traditional cabaret staples into a bloody funny comedy spoof. With lip-syncing, audience interaction and even a live original song rubbing shoulders with fancy-dress Dracula capes and hand-puppets, Drag Queens vs Vampires is a show it’s impossible not to fall in love with.
This time around, Dench and Bush have been chosen to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest in Romania. But when their Airbnb turns out to be a tad spookier than they expected, the pair’s bond will be tested to the limit by a romantically inclined Dracula and a bag-for-life full of pound-shop props.
The pair work together brilliantly – Dench has a sort of physical deadpan delivery that contrasts with Bush’s more operating facial expressions perfectly. They also have a great rapport with the crowd; a particularly rowdy audience member on Sunday night’s show was dealt with remarkably effectively, while another’s prominent bum-bag was quickly incorporated into the deliberately broad script.
If anything, the show feels like it could do with a little more of that improvisational spirit – where spots of audience interaction come to an end the pace does tend to drop slightly as the show settles into a more conventional genre parody. But these moments never last long, and when Drag Queens vs Vampires starts firing on all cylinders, it’s hard to think of a more flat-out entertaining show at the Fringe.
Drag Queens vs Vampires is playing at Underbelly – Cowgate until 27 August. You can view our comprehensive guide to the entire Fringe here.