Miss Conception in Villains

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REVIEW by G.W. Mercure

How does one review a drag show? Isn’t part of the attraction of a drag show that it exists on the margins, away from those things whose merits and blemishes we examine, trade, collect, exploit, and fall over one another trying to prove we recognize? Reviews are for cinema, opera, pop music, stories: things we judge. “Review” in this context is a misnomer, and that a review can be done meaningfully is a misconception.

From the sequined, fabulous, dark, loud, joyful, defiant Main Street of those margins rises Miss Conception, at Pilgrim House. Miss Conception, whose performance on a recent evening was one of the most reckless, who-cares, forget-all-the-shit-outside, fun times this reviewer has ever had, probably doesn’t care much for reviews, except that a good one—which this very much is—will help her perform for more people (although she did just fine when I was there). So what is there to say?

There is to say that the room was full; there is to say that the room was full of people of all kinds—even younger children (this was a family-friendly show)—who had an absolute blast, who sang out, who followed the occasionally snarky drag queen around in a conga line, and who left happy and wanting more. There is to say that I would see Miss Conception again.

And let’s say we did stick to the tired old straight white man’s definition of a review: How did I find the show? How would I judge her concept? The parade of cultish movie villains (Cruella Deville, Annie Wilkes from Misery, Michael Keaton’s undead Beetlejuice, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, and others I won’t spoil) was dynamic, eagerly received, and seemed to emphasize that drag shows don’t care about most of the structures within which stuffy writers create staid reviews. Her vocal range didn’t disappoint; her dancing made me want to dance, and her wit, by turns scripted and spontaneous, was relatable and just damn funny. The stage show was well-built but versatile. Her takes on cultural touchstones were tone-perfect. Miss Conception connected with her audience almost immediately and without reservation. Miss Conception was charming, human, rebellious. Miss Conception made her audience feel like there was a joke that not everyone was in on, but we were.

One of the most common purposes of a review is to help its reader decide among two or more movies, books, concerts, bars (with a Miss Conception performance, as with many drag shows, you get a little bit of all of those). But I wouldn’t compare it with other drag shows because Miss Conception made me want to see them ALL, and made me want to compel you to see this one, especially, as soon as you can.

Miss Conception performs in Villains at Pilgrim House, 336 Commercial St., Provincetown, various dates and times through September 10. For tickets, schedule, and information call 508.487.6424 or visit pilgrimhouseptown.com..