Theatre Review: DAVID HOYLE: STILL GOT IT..!? – Factory International, Manchester

Dancing in the face of convention, David Hoyle’s STILL GOT IT..!? immerses the audience in a variety show like no other.

5 out of 5 stars

For the past three weeks, the colourful, unapologetic, LGBTQ+ figure that is David Hoyle has descended on Factory Internationals’ Aviva Hall with a fully immersive exhibition that showcases Hoyle’s thoughts, work and career to date. 

The event will exhibit never-before-seen artworks by the Manchester man himself, together with screenings of his television work and stage performances.

As a multifaceted artist, Hoyle’s drag alter-ego, ‘The Divine David,’ descended on Channel 4 studios in the ’90s, at the height of alternative and anarchistic’ youth TV.’ 

Since then, Hoyle has ventured into artwork, onstage performances and TV work – building up a reputation as a figure for those who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.

And tonight, in a blaze of glory, we are treated to the climax of the three-week residency – Hoyle immersing the audience in a variety show like no other.

Glitterbomb dancers are the first act to be taken to the stage and appear several times. Having previously supported various drag acts, the dancers exude a deliberate and camp attitude. Their high-energy, fun dance routines were well received by an appreciative audience.

Lily Snatchdragon, with her unique and quirky burlesque performance.

Lily isn’t afraid to poke fun at herself with a cheeky strip tease. Never thought strip routines could involve a child’s paddling pool and food? 

There’s no strong context here, but it’s a crowd-pleaser nonetheless.

Thom Shaw Pam Lustgarden, an actor who is friends with Hoyles in real life, timidly makes her entrance onto the stage after the energetic dancers exit the show. Pam, the antithesis of Hoyle’s larger-than-life alternative persona, is a meek and deliberate opposite of Hoyle’s act. They bring an element of equilibrium to the anarchic antics onstage. 

Veda Lady is a cabaret performer who has been creating pop and rock music aimed at the LGBTQ community since the 1990s.

Her honest and personal approach when talking about her own life whilst living with HIV was refreshing and emotional to hear. 

Each time Hoyles minces back onto compare duties, it is cheers and whoops of appreciation and genuine affection from the audience.

In his obligatory war paint (think Dr Frank N Furter meets couture overindulgence ), he exudes cutting-edge confidence, and the years have not dampened Hoyle’s passion and enthusiasm for his craft.

It’s clear that the all-round performer still can captivate the audience.

Hoyle dances in the face of convention, offering respite from the day-to-day requirements and social niceties that society expects of us. HIV, poverty, childhood hardships and political agendas are all subjects that Hoyle tackles with the tenacity we’ve come to expect from him.  

Does Hoyle still have it? Undoubtedly so. His thoughts, observations and straight-talking humour are as relevant now as they were back in the ’90s.

And with his carnival of companions, he’s in good company.

DAVID HOYLE: STILL GOT IT..!? performed at Factory International, Manchester, on 27 April 2024