Prague Fringe 2016
Performance of songs old and new is wildly entertaining, but show does little to combat the stereotype of gay men as pouty flirts.
With a captivating show chockful of tunes both old and new, this baker’s dozen (at least most of the time, although the total comes to 16) of male performers drew wild applause from the crowd at the sold-out venue at the recent Prague Fringe. Shifting gears from Marilyn Monroe to Britney Spears, they move flirtatiously onstage, their physical movements limited to a sway (and a push) of the hips, a follow-through with the arms, a pout with the lips and a coquettish raise of the eyebrow.
The performance is thoroughly engaging, because the men seem wholly at ease doing their skit, entirely comfortable with their own middle-aged bodies, and this pride is a very attractive feature. However, there is a question to be asked about the continued relevance of this kind of show that suggests all gay men are promiscuous trouser-chasers whose behaviour is titled towards the effete, particularly given that all, or almost all, of the songs were made famous by female singers.
Perhaps there is a place for men performing Judy Garland or Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango”, but here the fact that these men so often take the place of the woman in their songs seems to go counter to the idea that this is, after all, the London Gay MEN’s Chorus. With respect to the Chicago tune, the use of Czech in place of the original Hungarian has to be applauded, as it creates yet another point of contact with the particular audience.
Ultimately, however, while one may question the success of the performance in combatting stereotypical perceptions of homosexuality (in fact, the show sadly seems to confirm them without hesitation), there is no denying that the men have charisma and certainly know how to entertain the crowd, as was clear at their Prague show.