It is Aunty Pam’s ruby wedding anniversary. But instead of a romantic evening celebrating forty years of wedded bliss, she sits in her quaint living room pining for her Hubby. Meanwhile, her husband Trevor is gambling and drinking down at Bulls’ watering hole - the Rathole. Throughout the evening, the audience, now guests in Pam’s living room become privy to her wild fantasies. Pamela shares her greatest ambitions and regrets in dynamic musical numbers. Where would Pamela from Bulls be if she left? A spy? A tennis star? An x-factor contestant?
I was impressed to discover there was so much live singing in this drag show. At times, the blaring audio from Pam’s telly was distorted a little too much, and the audience needed to strain their ears to follow along. This didn't detract from Mrs Hancock's glowing charisma.
The 70s-patterned sofa, prized but unfortunately-timed wedding photo and well-loved bible worked perfectly to emulate a quirky 63 year old’s living room. I do wish there was a more interesting backdrop rather than the ghastly greeny-blue brick wall of Ivy’s stage. But then again, ghastly might just work with her granny-aesthetic.
The lighting was so simple but so effective in the intimate space. Pamela basks in a sepia glow as she drifts into her wedding day flash back. A red filter highlights her 007 fantasy as she introduces herself as Pammy Galore!
Pamela’s rhetoric is consistently punctuated with malapropisms, or phrases hilariously using the wrong words like “confidential breakfast”. Her comedic timing is on point. Pam does well to juggle the various gags attached to her many props like the embarrassing wad of lotto tickets or the fly swatter turned tennis racket.
Cole Hampton is a fantastic character performer. Odds are you already know a Pamela Hancock. She’s the small town, kooky aunt who makes the whole room laugh by accident. He stayed in character to ask the sound technician to turn up the volume. After a clumsy mishap with her landline prop, Hampton brushes off a gasp from the audience, shooting a quick “opening night!” over her shoulder. I am eager to see more moments of Pamela interacting with her huddle of little darlings.
Hampton captures life in Bulls wonderfully. Pam’s wonder at the simplest creature comforts is endearing, and sometimes a little sad. The balance he strikes makes Pamela feel not only relatable, but real.
Be sure to catch rural New Zealand’s answer to Dame Edna in Hello Darlings! which is on at Ivy on Friday at 9pm. Book your tickets here.