With a topical reference to ‘Glee Club’, Manuel Simons’ late-night show is part paean of praise to Bruce Springsteen, part stretched sketch in which teen wiener Johnny from Jersey wants to model himself on “The Boss” but sings and sounds more like Shirley Temple.

Simons plays all the parts so Johnny’s journey from weak gleek to emancipated gay rocker is submerged under a series of accurately drawn but oddly-voiced friends, teachers and role models.

It’s a clever concept and Simons works hard on his characterisations, but the theme seems un-Camden and un-contemporary and the piece is neither academic enough to examine issues of masculinity versus acceptance nor sharp enough to make the same points satirically.

Simons can clearly sing, both in the falsetto and baritone registers, so it’s a pity that this isn’t more of a musical and less a hyperextended version of the scene in ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ when Georges teaches Albin to act butch.

Queer in the USA is at Etcetera Theatre 265 Camden High Street until 15 August, nightly at 10.30pm. Tickets from 08444 771000 or online via Camden Fringe box office at £7.50. Runs about 75 minutes.

Londonist Originally published on Londonist