Something I had been looking forward to for a while now was the return of cabaret to the stage after lockdown’s easing. This event is an excellent way to restart this particular art form live and in-person. The wonderful evening at the Pleasance was curated by Newcastle’s Ginger Johnson, an associate artist at the theatre and member of Sink the Pink, an LGBTQ+ collective and club night.
The lights dangling over the audience in the intimate pub garden theatre look rather like anal beads. It’s a great choice by lighting designer Richard Lambert because they suit the joyously raunchy tone of this adult panto in Vauxhall, or rather, the charming mountain village Vaüxhallen. The town’s residents we meet over the two hour-long show are all out for some action and adventure – in every sense of the word.
Hidden away in a soundproofed studio, two moustached men defy Mother Nature. Foley art is shrouded in a sexy mystery. I hear fire crackling, but I see Greggs wrapper. I hear glaciers melting, but I see pinecone. It doesn’t make sense and if I think about it for too long I get sweaty and nervous.
Drag auteur Peaches Christ has made their name as an adaptor of cult movies, directing the great and good of Ru-Paul’s Drag Race in leading roles. Drag Becomes Her stars charming long-term collaborator Jinx Monsoon and the ‘terminally delightful’ Ben DeLaCreme in the Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn film roles. What results is a raucous hour and half-long mess of a show, that’s both stressful and exciting to watch.
In 1988, when I was a 13-year-old boy in a provincial town in Derbyshire, being in
possession of Erasure’s number-one album The Innocents was a big deal. It was cool to
know the names of the synthpop duo, Andy Bell and Vince Clarke. ‘Yeah, we’re going to see Andy and Vince in concert, yeah, Andy Bell, Vince Clarke, Andy and Vince’, we bantered in the playground as casually as possible. So to see Andy Bell as Torsten in Queereteria TV, relatively up close, in the flesh, was for me a piece of pop history, big deal again, nostalgia.
Alma Margaretha Maria Schindler was the wife of three famous artists and the lover of a fourth. A composer herself, her achievements are overshadowed by the men she loved. It’s the typical tragic narrative of talented women from the past, and this show unfortunately perpetuates it.
The night before Parliament votes on Section 28, an amendment to the Local Government Act which prevents schools or similar local authorities from promoting homosexuality, Magaret Thatcher finds herself in a Soho nightclub. This is the fabulous premise to the now iconic drag cabaret: Margaret Thatcher, Queen of Soho.
A one wo(man) show by Peter Groom, Natural Duty focuses on Marlena Dietrich’s involvement with the US war effort during World War II. During the war, she spent several years at the front line in France, Belgium and Germany, improving troops’ morale by performing shows and meeting soldiers.
What a mess! David Hoyle’s exploration of rainbow Britain and his own career is a rather queer turn of events. It plays. It experiments. It breaks. Above all, it asks whether there may be something truly radical in messiness. And it never gives a straight answer.
Theatre can plumb the depths of despair. It can elevate human glory and achievement. It can stir the heart and still the soul. Or it can throw a fabulous party on a rocket ship full of bearded drag queens in sequinned thongs.