Kate Butch describes herself as "the Comic Sans of drag", and this – Kate If You Wanna Go Butcher – is her first solo show at the Fringe. Mixing songs, comedy and recollections, we find out when she first knew she was gay, and why Mid Life Crisis is her favourite porn film.
The tone is set by a bombastic lip-synced song, and aided by PowerPoint slides, Butch sets out the theme of her show – gimmicks. She's already used three gimmicks, she tells us (drag, lip-sync and PowerPoint), and there are plenty more to come. Using this tenuous theme, she begins to go through a catalogue of observations and stories from her life; these include the fact that she came out on Facebook, and a rather disturbing story of a vicar and his wife who used to visit her primary school.
While many of the sketches and stories are funny and interesting, there is nothing to link them except that they contain numbered gimmicks. And there are too many of those. For instance, at the beginning, Butch turned on a cassette player to record the show; the recording was gifted to an audience member at the end, but it didn’t serve any other purpose and its inclusion is baffling.
The theme would have worked better if the number of gimmicks had been cut down, and the remaining ones used more extensively and effectively – quality rather than quantity. As it is, the theme does little to connect the different parts of the show, which feels too much like a muddled collection of observations, recollections and the occasional song.
And Kate can sing. Gimmicks 18-20 relate to the audience picking a song from a choice of three; the night I attended, we heard a melancholy number from the musical Ordinary Days. It was really well done and a genuine highlight, but like a lot of other moments in the show it came a bit out of left field.
There is a lot to like in Kate Butch’s show: the songs are great, and many of the stories are interesting and funny. However, there is a lack of cohesion in their presentation, causing emotional whiplash from time to time. The ingredients are all there and it will be interesting to see what Kate Butch does in the future.