"One is the solo-iest number," local drag performer Ben DeLaCreme sings—really sings!—at the top of her first "evening length" solo show, Ben DeLaCreme: Terminally Delightful—Live in 3-D!
If you haven't seen DeLaCreme perform with the Atomic Bombshells and other burlesque revues, or at the Can Can Cabaret, picture Karen from Will & Grace crossed with a coked-up Eydie Gormé, their resulting drag love child christened with a pinch of finely ground Sarah Palin.
There are some genius set pieces in this short show—an inventive lip-synch routine (how often do you see "inventive" in the same sentence with "lip-synch"?), DeLaCreme rapping as Eminem ("Crenimem"), a very gentle dig at burlesque's overused strip-by-popping-balloons routine—but Terminally Delightful, while delightful, is confusing and confused.
For half the show, DeLaCreme is another legend-in-her-own-mind half talent, a malapropism-spewing train wreck in the mold of Dina Martina. But while Martina comes across as too dim to be in on the joke (and Dina Martina pretty much is the joke), a fierce intelligence plays on DeLaCreme's face. We can buy her as a desperate wannabe, perhaps, but she's not convincing or sympathetic as a pathetic and delusional fantasist.
For the other half of the show—three video segments that are funny in spots but need some serious trimming— DeLaCreme is suddenly self-aware and self-possessed, marshaling her intelligence and emotional resources to push back against "helpful" advice phoned in by malicious family members. These scenes unfold like semiautobiographical vignettes, a peek at what the real live boy behind Ben DeLaCreme must have endured before he grew to his full fabulousness.
If that's the show DeLaCreme wants to do—an autobiographical solo show that leaves us cheering for DeLaCreme's triumph over middle-class conformity—DeLaCreme needs to find the courage to do that show. But in its current incarnation, Terminally Delightful shifts back and forth between DeLaCreme's fictional Dina-esque persona and the trials of the very real person behind that facade. We don't see enough of either to feel fully satisfied. And it's unlikely that both of these people, even with fleshing out, can successfully share one stage, and one solo show, and one dress.
This story has been updated since its original publication.