Cancel Cultured Pearls

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REVIEW by Rebecca M. Alvin

On a warm mid-August evening, the showroom at Pilgrim House is packed. We’re all here to see drag veteran Miss Richfield 1981 in her latest show Cancel Cultured Pearls, a title that seems perfect for the politically incorrect queen of comedy. She comes out dressed as a n oyster (with a pearl inside, of course) and the show takes off right away.

Miss Richfield’s shows always sprinkle in contemporary issues, make us laugh at various aspects of American culture (or lack thereof), and feature her good-natured jabs at various audience members, often with the real butt of the joke being Miss R. herself. But this one feels more direct than shows in years past. The idea of “cancel culture” may be known as an aspect of libertarian hysteria constantly lamented by (mostly male) comedians who ironically use their high-profile platforms to complain about not being allowed to speak, but Miss Richfield comes at it from a slightly different angle.

She discusses her experiences being targeted by a conservative woman opposed to drag story hours. She also shares a message from an online hater with a more liberal slant who complained about a photo of Miss Richfield on vacation in Mexico. The hilarious analyses of these grievances open us to her broader message of how to laugh at ignorance without being ignorant, at how to look for context and understand that intentions matter.

Despite this specific overall message, Cancel Cultured Pearls is about laughter and having a good time. It works because the environment in the room is one of a shared adventure, where no matter what Miss Richfield 1981 says, no matter how much her obliviousness makes us cringe at times, we know it’s all in good fun. It speaks to her talent, wit, and presence, that we trust her, whether she’s singing dressed as an oyster or spreading her legs on an altar in a church.

In Miss Richfield’s hands, we know we’re safe. And we also know we’re going to laugh our asses off.

Miss Richfield appears in Cancel Cultured Pearls,  Fridays and Saturdays, 9 p.m. through September 17 at Pilgrim House, 336 Commercial St., Provincetown. For tickets ($45 VIP/$35) and information call 508.487.6424 or visit pilgrimhouseptown.com.