At first glance, the Kinsey Sicks appear to offer a typical, run-of-the-mill drag show. All of the expected elements are in place: mascara, beautiful dresses, high heels, perfectly quaffed, aquanet hair, eyelashes for miles, and—above all—witty quips and banter.
Take a closer look however, and you’ll notice that they embody a much different style from their counterparts. Sure, their primary goal is to inspire smiles. But they wisely combine parodies and self-deprecating material with strong social and political themes. The result is a smartly crafted piece which is both entertaining and educational.
Currently, America’s favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet (as they are self-dubbed) can be found at the Soho Playhouse for Things You Shouldn’t Say. The work is part of the Fringe Encore Series, which produces a small number of the finest shows from Fringe Festivals around the globe.
Things You Shouldn’t Say is stuffed with gleeful irreverence and hilarious parodies that would undoubtedly irritate our current, thin-skinned leader of the free world. Laughter, after all, is the best medicine when the world turns dark-and Kinsey Sicks original founding member, Ben Schatz, knows this darkness all too well.
Before the end of Act 1, Schatz—who just happens to have a law degree from Harvard—recalls the formation of the group at the height of San Francisco’s AIDS epidemic. He describes the equality battle that has been fought on the backs of brave men and women within the LGBTQ community. He also pins blame on politicians who have mocked and silenced his fellow brothers and sisters for the sake of political gain.
It is an unexpected, but crucial moment in the show. So much of today’s gay-themed entertainment glosses over or omits the unimaginable loss that was suffered during the height of the community’s most infectious disease. Schatz and his quartet deserve heaps of praise for reminding audiences—especially young theatregoers— of what was lost, what was won, and why the struggle is far from over.
After a brief intermission, the somber tone is lifted and typical antics ensue. Vocally, the “girls” are spectacular. With only occasional help from a pitch pipe to guide them, they effortlessly stay on key, navigating intricate harmonies and singing live, tongue-tying phrases to precision.
Schatz, whose stage moniker is “Rachel” serves as the only original member of the group (and poignantly recalls one of the deceased co-founders), but he has found wonderful chemistry with his current players: Winnie (Nathan Marken), Trixie (Jeff Manabat) and Trampolina (Spencer Brown). Together, this bundle of beauties will leave you deeply moved and simultaneously amused.
Kinsey Sicks: Things You Shouldn’t Say runs through September 26th at Soho Playhouse (15 Vandam Street, NYC). For tickets and information,visit Soho Playhouse .