BWW Review: DIVINA DE CAMPO, The Other Palace
Following their hyper-successful Sunday Favourites at The Other Palace, the venue are launching another series of one-off concerts that will see performers get up close and personal in an acoustic setting. Instead of leaving their main stage dark on a Monday, the theatre are taking the chance to bring more stars to their fans, hosting an impressive line-up that includes John Owen-Jones and Kerry Ellis later in the spring.
Drag Race UK runner-up and the one and only queen with "a red wig and a silver dress" Divina de Campo kicked off Monday Favourites at The Other Palace. The evening was a hint of classical drag cabaret and the showcase of an incredible singer. A huge musical theatre fan, they presented a set-list that spanned showtunes and songs from the forever-missed NBC tv show Smash, throwing in some ABBA for good measure.
A naturally effortless showqueen, de Campo's very specific and subtle humour owned the stage accompanied only by a piano. Some awkward audience interaction (or, rather, lack thereof) made for some brief stalling at the start, but they quickly recovered. Delightfully inappropriate gags and numbers filled the room between Drag Race anecdotes and some shading (even Idina Menzel made the cut). The queen also tackled the rise in expectations when drag in concerned, pointing out how the media and programs like RuPaul's skyrocketed them to absurd heights.
The range they displayed is truly astonishing and the track-list was a musical theatre fan's dream. "A Little Bit of Good" from Chicago opened, followed by "All That Jazz", a sprinkle of Gilbert and Sullivan, and a whole lot of Wicked. With a surprise appearance from Collabro's Michael Auger, they delivered a hilarious rendition of "The Phantom of the Opera" (with de Campo gargling water for the final high belt - Sarah Brightman who?!) and an unquestionably beautiful "For Good".
Auger also sang "The Wall in My Head" from Everybody's Talking About Jamie earlier in the night and joined de Campo for some delightful banter in-between. Jonathan Reid Gealt's "Quiet" was forewarded by one of the few toned down, introspective moments. Before the gorgeous interpretation, they reflected on how people judge celebrities and all reality show participants off a few hours of heavily edited screen time.
They ended a night of delectable entertainment and particularly naughty comedy with a powerful "Defying Gravity" involving the crowd in the refrains and handing them the parts of Glinda, aka "the Taylor Swift of the Land of Oz". Honest, truthful, sublimely self-deprecating, and exceptionally talented, de Campo shines in a live environment and none of their television appearances - from the short-lived All Together Now to Drag Race - do them proper justice. "There is a very serious artist at work here" they said sarcastically mid-riff, except that it turns out it's definitely not a joke. De Campo is a serious artist and should be taken as such.