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BWW Review: AT THE WAKE OF A DEAD DRAG QUEEN at Urbanite Theatre is a dose of love and reality


The Production runs through December 5th

BWW Review: AT THE WAKE OF A DEAD DRAG QUEEN at Urbanite Theatre is a dose of love and reality

Sometimes theatre is different. Sometimes it is unique and thought-provoking with enough emotion to pull your heart strings and punch you in the gut all at the same time. There are times where a play is not conventional; yet allows its audiences to experiences an array of feelings that make us glad we spent an evening at the theatre. All of this and so much more await guests when they see "At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen" which is making its regional premiere at Urbanite Theatre.

Theatre has changed a lot during the last two years, and this is Urbanite's first production since the start of the pandemic. Guests are required to wear masks throughout the 70-minute, intermission free show in addition to providing proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test. The theatre is intimate (as always) and its cast of two allows for minimal exposure and will hopefully allow for a highly successful run.

"At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen" under the direction of Damian Lockhart follows the exuberant and complicated lives of two drag queens. Drag Queen Courtney Berringers (given name: Anthony Knighton) welcomes guests to her wake. She has recently died from complications due to AIDS. The story is a flashback of her life and love and complex relationship with her fellow Drag Queen.

Donovan Session portrays Courtney Berringers and does so with a flare that one expects from the role while at the same time displaying an innate vulnerability to the difficult life she has often led. In addition to dealing with AIDS which leads to the character's ultimate death, Session grapples with the fear of reaction and the raw emotion that has transformed her life into one that she believes has no exit to happiness. Session is magnificent in toying with your emotions and allowing you, as an audience member, to both hope for her success and at the same time, feel the agony as you watch her go down a path that can only lead to heartache.

Shea Petersen (Hunter/Vickie) is the perfect complement to Session's flamboyant character. Petersen wears their heart on their sleeve and is engulfed in ever facet of their lover's life. Petersen's character who is also HIV Positive is asymptomatic which is perhaps why they takes a different approach to life and the disease they carries. Petersen is an open book who tries at every turn to show their partner that their love is enough, that it is real. Displaying love on stage is perhaps the most difficult of all emotions but Petersen leaves no doubt as to their character's feelings.

Session and Petersen are a unique but perfectly cast duo who each amplify their partner. Their relationship is full of love and heartbreak. The roles require vulnerability and strength in addition to a keen awareness of the scars that each carry. Their understanding of the roles combined with Lockhart's awareness of the inner depths of each help elevate the show that keeps your emotions always on the forefront as the story unfolds.

The show isn't for everyone. It is explicit and deals with issues that aren't flowery and will give you a dose of reality. However, what "At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen" is at its core is REAL. The show makes you think, it makes you cringe out of a sense of what you know is right, or at least should be. Lockhart, Session and Petersen have created art and a message of love in a world that needs both.

The show runs through December 5th. Tickets and more information can be found at

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