Electricity was the theme of OxPHWOARd's latest show, and sparks were flying from the stage as the evening unwound. The Oxfordshire Drag Collective is going from strength to strength - in addition to OxPHWOARd, they've recently launched a new show, SPUDS (Strange People Undertake a Drag Show), as well as a programme of workshops where budding performers can hone their drag skills.
The Bullingdon was packed, with many regulars back to see host Ginger Tart and her line-up of performers. Ginger opened the night by laying out the ground rules, the first of which stressed the Collective's zero-tolerance approach to any kind of bigotry - "in essence, please don't be a dickhead!"
Ginger's direct and inclusive instructions set the tone for the rest of the night, which was a celebration of diversity of performance and performers, all buzzing with an electric charge. The acts opened with Effusique Aimée as a lip-syncing robot, telling a fantastic story through dance, before moving on to Aleksandr Arkhon, who was mesmerising as an electric demon in a masquerade mask. One of the stand-out performers of the night was "drag barbarian" Oedipussi Rex, who performed first as Zeus (with a hilariously phallic reference to Leda and the Swan), and later returned with a down-and-dirty take on the Macarena that had everyone in the audience dancing along.
OxPHWOARd places the focus just as much on burlesque as on drag, and there were some wonderful, subversive performances from dancers such as Glitterous (I've never seen someone do a striptease in a parka before) and Velma Von Bon Bon (who brought a touch of Fifties film glamour to the evening). Mysti Vine was one of the highlights of the second half, with a snappy, hilarious act that took a snarky look at online dating.
OxPHWOARd: Electric was the first drag and burlesque show I've been to, and while I was expecting the glitter, glamour and silliness, I was also pleasantly surprised by the sense of community created throughout the evening between the performers and the audience. Ginger was on fine form throughout, inviting the audience to laugh along with her, and taking interruptions from tipsy (but amiable) audience members in her stride. The evening was indeed electric, the performers shining brightly and making the night buzz with energy. If you're looking for a silly, creative, and incredibly fun night out, an OxPHWOARd performance is the perfect choice.