EdFringe 2019 Review: Crystal Rasmussen presents The Bible 2 (Plus a Cure for Shame, Violence, Betrayal and Athlete’s Foot) Live!

Crystal Rasmussen presents The Bible 2 (Plus a Cure for Shame, Violence, Betrayal and Athlete’s Foot) Live!

Rating: ★★★
Venue: Underbelly Cowgate

Drag sensation Crystal Rasmussen (AKA Tom Rasmussen) explores her own follow-up to The Bible interlaced with rousing musical numbers and poignant personal anecdote centred on the queer experience.

Crystal Rasmussen presents The Bible 2 (Plus a Cure for Shame, Violence, Betrayal and Athlete’s Foot) Live! blends Crystal’s own backstory (being separated from her family in Russia in 1917, raised by wolves, starring in adult films) with Tom’s creation and relationship with the Crystal character – interlaced with stunning musical numbers reflective of these anecdotes.

Opening with an atmospheric shadow-puppet backed rendition of Kylie’s Confide In Me, Rasmussen’s show introduces us to Crystal’s extravagant backstory. The fearless red-haired diva has survived living with wolves to marriages with men from Mr Blobby to Rasputin and some of this fearlessness explains why Tom created her. Personal anecdotes from Tom explore the creation of Crystal – her birth as a means for him to explore and express his inner femininity. A riveting, heartfelt interpretation of Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work channels these themes with a delicate poignancy.

In sharing methods of coping with school bullies, Tom dips into a Ray of Light soundtracked interlude about Madonna (Crystal’s sometimes collaborator) and pop music as a way of he and Crystal projecting an air of confidence and surviving the layers of hostility that queer people face. Pop music also leads to a highly-amusing segway entitled Sexodus exploring all from dog make-out sessions to Eiffel Towers – yet themes of consent and further dangers faced by the queer community rear their head as this section takes an emotive, unsettling turn.

Tom’s storytelling, whether as Crystal recounting her rise to the top, or as himself exploring his identity and experiences as a queer person, is engaging and naturally heartfelt. He is a magnetic storyteller with an eloquent poignancy in his words. Exploring the concepts of love (through the joy found choosing your own tribe or family or meeting a special someone) and brutality (recounting an attack he and a partner faced sheds light on the struggles still faced by the queer community), it is easy to be drawn into Tom’s warm, heartfelt and engaging musings. Performances of Loving You and The Power of Love help perfectly encapsulate these themes.

Massive praise should go to these musical performances. Tom packs a deep-rooted emotion into these numbers, interpreting them in a unique and original fashion, and bringing light to the lyricism that continually channels the themes he discusses. There is surely a Crystal Rasmussen album waiting to be made.

Crystal Rasmussen presents The Bible 2 delights in its high camp comedy and cleverly interpreted musical numbers, but its most impressive asset is its heart and poignancy. Tom’s discussion of the queer experience and his personal journey will undoubtedly resonate with many, providing an absorbing, optimistic and cathartic emotional journey.

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