The Darlings Take Immersive Drag Theatre to Artistic Heights

Photo by Samuel Olsen

By Kendell Yan

Provocative! Haunting! Dreamy! Experience the live event critics are calling a phantasmagorical romp through the psyche! On October 25th witness the terrifically terrifying drag quartet, The Darlings, in a conceptually indulgent drag show sprung from the minds of four peculiar genderflux individuals.

The Darlings are Continental Breakfast, Rose Butch, Maiden China, and P.M. They are four non-binary drag performers who turn gender upside-down with their unconventional performance styles and sometimes outlandish looks. “A possible intention of the show is to provide people with an immersive, theatrical, and completely unique glimpse into drag,” says Continental, the current reigning Regent Emprex of Vancouver for the Dogwood Monarchist Society (DMS), a local charity spearheaded by drag queens and activists in the LGBTQ2+ community. “All four of us bring a completely different aspect to the show, which makes it so specific. Time specific, location specific, this wouldn’t make sense with any other performers.”

Image by Samuel Olsen

For their inaugural show in September, Rose Butch performed a spoken word piece by Of Montreal while accompanying hand-drawn visuals were projected as an overlay on their body and the wall behind them. The effect was something of a live-action animated storytelling as the audience gathered closely around them.

Something unique about the show is the use of space – while there is a central stage in the Vancouver Arts and Leisure venue at 101 W. 6th ave, the show takes place all around and through the audience, with each cast member moving to accommodate various performance pieces with each other. At one moment there may be several focal points and each audience member may experience something different depending on where they are watching from or what draws their attention.

Imperial Crown Princet of the DMS, P.M. dazzled in an immersive contemporary dance routine to the Knife’s “Silent Shout” as plumes of white smoke and powder fell off their body while they moved through the crowd to a final sequence on a platform in the middle of the venue. Between all of this beautiful imagery, each performance was broken up by a series of short tableaus or sketches that provided a break for audience members, but were each captivating in their own right.

The Darlings is an ambitious performance art show taking a multidisciplinary approach to drag that Vancouver hasn’t seen before. Part installation, part performance art, the show is something of a lavish and egotistical passion project that showcases each of the performers challenging themselves and each other. They are doing what they want, how they want to, promising you something you won’t want to sleep on or the regret will haunt you until the end of your days.

What: The Darlings
Where: 101 West 6th Ave. (Vancouver Art and Leisure)
When: October 25th 10:30 PM
Why: The worlds of conceptual theatre and modern drag come together in this immersive performance art experience.

Tickets available at leisure.events/the-darlings-2

Kendell Yan is a queer, second-generation POC who navigates the hyphen of mixed ethnicity LGBTQ2+ living in Vancouver. Kendell has a penchant for drag Queens and Kings that borders on obsession, and he favours events that encourage free expression, inclusivity, and love in all flavours.

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