Pecs: The 80s Show
Reviewed – 5th December 2017
“To be daring in Soho is certainly not an easy feat, but Pecs manages to bring something new and different to an inundated fringe market”
I was expecting Pecs to be just like any other cabaret show; dance routines, stand-up comedy, lip syncing and live music; but the drag king aesthetic and the political undertones permeating the piece demonstrate a thoughtful and frankly unmissable night of promotion and activism. Pecs isn’t simply a happy jaunt into eighties nostalgia, it makes witty and relevant links to eighties politics and events, encouraging the audience to foster their own inner punk rock spirit and make a difference outside of the boundaries of the Soho theatre.
Pecs features nine drag kings who, throughout the evening, perform a number of acts ranging from live music to stand up comedy. The calibre of performance is excellence, truly drawing on the showmanship demonstrated by some of our much loved pop-icons, we meet with fantastic impressions of Bowie, Prince and George Michael. The chorus lip-sync numbers are flawlessly choreographed with the necessary cheesy dance moves, bringing back a time of fun and shameless narcissism that is instantly recognisable. The live music performances are phenomenally performed, with particular mention to the opening number, a remix of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody; my only issue to raise is a couple of audio faults that occasionally undermined the fantastic vocals of the cast.
With only moveable set and props, narrative is provided by the show’s compere, Cesar Jently (Kit Griffiths). Pulling apart ideals of white masculinity, Griffiths gives a fantastic and empathic performance, reading and responding to the audience as well as any MC should and seamlessly tying the acts together with a through line of comparisons between eighties sociopolitical events and those of the modern day; the Brixton riots, the AIDS Crisis and Margaret Thatcher are all invoked.
For me, the most striking moment of the piece was the ‘Black Power’ act by Drag King Cole (Temi Wilkey). Leading us through a montage of protest, government speeches, rap lyrics and police audio footage, Wilkey brought modern day racial politics and prejudices to the forefront of the piece with relentless courage, leaving much of the white middle-class audience of the Soho theatre speechless. The boldness with which this performance takes place is truly stunning, withdrawing from the previous tongue-in-cheek comedy around masculinity and prejudice, the audience are thrown into the realities of our current political climate and the consequences that follow.
To be daring in Soho is certainly not an easy feat, but Pecs manages to bring something new and different to an inundated fringe market. Under the guise of light humour and cheesy pop, Pecs is a piece that both forces its audience to confront the issues that we hide from and empowers us all to put up a fight and make a change.
Reviewed by Tasmine Airey
Pecs: The 80s Show
is at the Soho Theatre until 9th December