Definition of 'different': a tour of Llandudno's lost theatres aboard a red double-decker bus festooned with pink balloons, accompanied by a drag queen singing operatic arias and a mute who likes to act out through the medium of mime.
That's Divina and Dymphna's Day-Glo Bus Tour in a rather cracked nutshell. And it was fabulous! The bus was originally to have been an open-topped affair, so it was a shame it wasn't in the end as Divina De Campo's stacked high-heel boots made her so tall that she couldn't stand up straight with a roof on top! But it made the tour a much more intimate affair. As we were driven around Llandudno's "treacherous one-way system" to visit the former locations or currently derelict theatres of the resort, Divina educated us in her own amusing style about the buildings' history, their origins, heydays and downfalls, while Dymphna D'Arcy careered up and down the aisle acting out Divina's commentary.
But as mentioned in my review of Day 1 of Llawn03, there's more to Divina than curly wigs and plunging necklines. That girl has one hell of a voice on her, and accompanied the tour by singing various operatic arias at each stop. The passengers were given postcards of old photos of the theatres at their height - the Odeon, the Arcadia, the Grand and the Palladium - and we learnt that while the former two have long been demolished, there's still life in the Palladium (well, if you can call a Wetherspoon's life!) and there are ambitious plans for the dilapidated Grand (the old Broadway Boulevard nightclub). Who knew a bus ride with a drag queen could be so educational and cultured?
|Babs - or is it Stella? Nobody quite|
knows, not even them!
What's most impressive about this performance isn't the well-crafted, amusing choreography, nor Alex's array of hilarious facial expressions. It's not the beautiful costumes or the wacky wigs and sunglasses. Above all else, it's the fact these three performers mime to a soundtrack for 15 minutes - everything from the music to the sound effects and even the dialogue is on a backing track, and the performers mime seamlessly to every word and turn. I've seen these dancers perform before in other guises (at Wales Dance Platform 2015) and can safely say there's more talent in this collective than you'll probably see in a whole season of The X Factor.
|Dr D Dreadful and his Cyberpussy menace Stella - or is it Babs?|
The journey was impressive, accompanied by a music track blaring from speakers, and must have confused many a passing motorist who could only see a crowd of people staring intently up at the sky with smiles on their faces.
Another promenade spectacle was Acrojou's The Wheelhouse, a nautical narrative street show which unfolds in and around a circular set which rolls along the prom, the audience in pursuit. It's quite unlike anything you may have seen before, and is presented beautifully by performers Barney White and Jeni Barnard. The design of both the rolling set and the costumes is reminiscent of the world of Mad Max or Waterworld, and it's enormous fun to see the story play out (a mime to music and sound) and to follow the progress of the Wheelhouse.
|The Wheelhouse sans St John Ambulance|
|A World of Our Own|
My preview of the Llawn03 weekend.
My review of Llawn03 Day 1.
My review of Llawn03 Day 3.
Link to Llawn03 website and full line-up.