Theatre review: Blanche & Butch, Tron Theatre, Glasgow

First seen in Noel Greig's 2006 play Heelz on Wheelz, Blanche & Butch are wheelchair-using drag queens who tour their double act around whatever tatty venues will have them, trailing clouds of glitter and obscenity in their wake. Eleven years on, though, they have varied their show, introducing a third performer who can walk, and staging their own version of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? with piano accompaniment from Blanche's devoted musician pal Keys, a young bearded lady.

Kinny Gardner and Garry Robson in Blanche & Butch
Kinny Gardner and Garry Robson in Blanche & Butch

Blanche & Butch ***

Tron Theatre, Glasgow

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Our fate, though, is not to witness their show but to watch the performers prepare, as, in tribute to the Baby Jane mood, they bitchily trash the landscape of 21st century minority rights, calling one another “crips” and insisting that, far from being unavoidably “born that way”, gay men – including father-of-six Butch, played in fine style by Gary Robson – can perfectly well have relationships with women.

The effect of all this, in Kenny

Miller’s production and design, is highly theatrical, tremendously messy and often thoroughly depressing, with much of the finest writing coming in writer Robert Softley Gale’s searching and poignant monologues, as Blanche, about the demands society makes of disabled people in return for their “rights”.

Yet Blanche & Butch also has the feel of an important show, that tries to take forward the debate on how we see disability; and with Kinnie Gardner

acting up a camp storm as new girl Bette, the show offers a troubling and vivid hour of theatre, and plenty to think about, once Baby Jane finally fades to black.

*Blanche & Butch is at The Byre, St Andrews, 27 September; Woodend Barn, Banchory, 28 September; and Summer­hall, Edinburgh, 13-14 October