[Note: This is a review of the previous production.]“We’re actually going to be talking about 14th century Italian literature,” proclaims BenDeLaCreme near the start of his/her entertaining multimedia solo show BenDeLaCreme’s Inferno A-Go-Go. It’s very loosely and irreverently based on Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. That literary classic describes a journey through hell including The Ninth Circle. Here it’s used as a clever pretext for an hour of inspired silliness with flashes of seriousness.
This athletic and very personable performer is a supreme drag artiste possessed of great comic timing. Following a spooky haunted house-style narration, she makes her entrance wearing a flowing black hooded cape and reveals her black beehive wig, devil ears, claws and stylish makeup. She then engages the audience with corny jokes, funny ad libs and puns. “Dante, by the way, is also Italian for fully cooked but still firm.” There are references to Grindr, Scruff, Yelp and Nancy Reagan. Audience members get to go on stage to help with props.
Besides the aural motif of The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno” there are witty original songs also performed during this wacky travelogue. Most hilarious is a parody of Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded” and Styx’s “Come Sail Away” are featured as well.
Much of the presentation is comprised of elaborate video screen projections (perfectly edited by Shane Wahlund) with which she interacts. There are spectacular sequences visualizing red hued hell with dancing skeletons and a comical 1950’s style ocean liner voyage on “Carnal Cruises.”
She also marvelously portrays numerous characters including in these previously recorded portions including The Devil in the manner of The Wizard of Oz. She is such a fine live performer that this reliance on multi-media could be lessened. Her puppetry skills are on grand display with a Waylon Flowers’ Madame-type skeletal one and another of a shaggy demon.
Besides BenDeLaCreme’s histrionic and writing talents, she also directed the show with terrific pacing and visual flair. The glorious puppets and props, video dioramas, and makeup are all her accomplished handiwork as well.
Daniel Helman’s splashy costumes are in the manner of Las Vegas extravaganzas and include a sequined red, white and blue form-fitting dress and an orange fringe bikini get-up.
Sound designer Kevin Heard masterfully blends the multitude of music and effects. Mr. Heard is also in the control booth flawlessly running the show’s technical elements.
In season six of television’s RuPaul’s Drag Race, BenDeLaCreme won “Miss Congeniality” and has since been voted one of the show’s “15 Fan Favorite Queens of All Time.” Before this triumph she was a Chicago-based performance artist and since achieving recognition has performed in several self-created shows.
BenDeLaCreme’s Inferno A-Go-Go is a good-natured, amusing and playfully erudite theatrical diversion.
BenDeLaCreme’s Inferno A-Go-Go (return engagement May 24 – June 3, 2018)
The Laurie Beechman Theater (inside West Bank Café), 407 West 42nd Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit http://www.spincyclenyc.com
Running time: 60 minutes with no intermission