The audience, despite dozens of empty seats, was hyped and ready for Sandra Bernhard’s much-vaunted return and to be fair it took a while for her to kill our enthusiasm, but kill it she eventually did. The act was pretty much split between gorgeous musical pieces and hilarious scripted fantasy scenarios (becoming Stevie Nicks’ best friend, the WASP childhood she never had) and meandering, whining, ad-libbed, uncomfortable, monotonous crowd-baiting. Miss Bernhard doesn’t like the time slot, Miss Bernhard doesn’t like the flight she was on, Miss Bernhard doesn’t like Queer Up North (‘Get over it!’), Miss Bernhard might not actually like England, Manchester, us, me! Miss Bernard certainly doesn’t like coming on after Miss Tina C. ‘Maybe if I put on a little dress and ooh! Is that what you want? I’m working my ass off up here. This is REAL!’ Ouch.
At one point she pulled out a faintly embarrassing gay disco anthem style tune from the archives. I have a feeling this was meant to save the show. When that failed to get us on our feet things got nasty and not a little desperate. When she began an unprompted tirade against the white middle-class heterosexual patriarchal powers that be (so seventies) and their damn institution of marriage and us poor homos it would just have taken too long for anyone to heckle ‘In actual fact we have a system of Civil Partnership which, though not a full social equivalent to marriage per se, nevertheless provides fundamentally equal status in most significant areas of social partnership.’ Who could be bothered?
When we realised the people going to the loo in droves weren’t coming back, we too called it a night (at that point she was walking around the stalls beating a druum and shrieking ‘Jesus walks!’). We met some friends and fellow escapees outside the theatre, headed to the Village to recoup and spent the rest of the blissfully warm night drinking cold lagers on the boat at Eden (from actual glasses, amen!) and laughing our asses off.
Sorry Miss Bernhard, you might think drag is dated but I aint gonna roll over and shit Mars Bars every time someone says ‘Disco!’ either. Maybe they did that twenty years ago, thankfully those days are over.
We love you Sandra, go home.