Made in collaboration with Manchester-based artist-led company Milk Presents, Modest brings you Elizabeth Thompson, the megastar of the Victorian art scene, in a riotous, empowering new show starring the UK’s hottest drag king talent.
Rooted in music hall and inspired by drag king cabaret, music and theatre collide in this exciting new production. Modest follows Elizabeth on her remarkable journey from stunning the Royal Academy in 1874 with her painting, Roll Call, to five years later, when she falls just two votes short of becoming the first woman elected to the Academy. In the intervening five years, Elizabeth shoulders the hopes and dreams of women and non-binary people across the UK, fighting for her place in an often actively hostile space full of top hats, ties and mutton chops.
The role of Elizabeth will be performed by Emer Dineen (Pecs Drag Kings, The Yard Theatre; Haus of Dons, Soho Theatre; WAKE, Dublin Fringe), and the roles of the Royal Academicians and Millais are performed by some of the UK’s most exciting drag artists as drag kings, upending expectations of Victorian men – much as Elizabeth did.
Fizz Sinclair (Witches of Oz and Mulan Rouge, The Vaults; NewsRevue, Edinburgh Fringe) is Alice and RA Two. LJ Parkinson (The Man Who Fell to Earth, Paramount Plus; Death Drop: Back in the Habit, UK tour; The Other One, BBC) aka LoUis CYfer, takes the roles of RA One and Mary. Isabel Adomakoh Young (Heartstopper, Netflix; Hamlet, Bristol Old Vic; Foundation, Apple TV) is RA Three and Frances.
The roles of Millais and Cora will be played by Jacqui Bardelang (The Nevers, HBO; Sink the Pink, Mighty Hoopla; Mulan Rouge, The Vaults), and Libra Teejay (When All Is Said, UK tour; North Wales Burlesque and Cabaret Festival; One Time, ORA Films), is Bessie and Queen Vic.
Modest is an electrifying, contemporary take on a sexist tale as old as time, celebrating the power of outsider art and fighting back in a male-dominated world. This revolutionary show about the artist who almost became the first woman elected to the Royal Academy is codirected by Luke Skilbeck (Milk Presents) and Paul Smith (Middle Child), and written by Ellen Brammar (I Hate Alone), with music by Rachel Barnes. Modest was developed with the support of the National Theatre’s Generate programme and is funded by Arts Council England and Hull City Council.