Dame Edna: Drag act or performance artist?

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Back With a Vengeance Tour
Performed by Dame Edna
… and backstage with the artist

DAME EDNA EVERAGE is the only Tony Award-winning star who quizzes the audience and insults what they wear. Galumphing about the stage in a sensationally outré gown, purple hair and rhinestone-winged glasses, she razzes latecomers and asks them to identify themselves.

Dame Edna, the wildcard creation of Barry Humphries, disarms in order to delight. She’s a comic terrorist in the guise of a provincial matron from Australia. Her roguish act is premised on the antic chaos that ensues when she attacks with reckless abandon—and then openly asserts her innocence. “I mean that in a kind, caring way,” Dame Edna is given to reiterating. Her mouth twitches in mock anxiety at her cutting comments, the timbre of her voice lowered in false intimacy, while her reassuring words and cooing voice only reinforce the spirit of intimidation.

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