Tag Archives: Celine Lowenthal

Pecsmas

★★★★★

The Yard Theatre

Pecsmas

Pecsmas

The Yard Theatre

Reviewed – 11th December 2019

★★★★★

 

even the most prudish will find themselves revelling in the show’s risqué holiday showcase”

 

Pecsmas is the Pecs Drag Kings’ new festive show following the incredible success of their theatrical cabaret SEX SEX MEN MEN earlier this year. Directed by Celine Lowenthal and produced by Ellen Spence and Daisy Hale, Pecsmas is a queer Christmas show like no other. Four of the group’s Kings take to the stage along with a different special guest performer each night to deliver a tantalisingly sexy show that challenges toxic masculinity while maintaining comedy at its core.

John Travulva (Jodie Mitchell), Thrustin Limbersnake (Lauren Steele), Scott Free (Rosie Skan) and Loose Willis (Katy Bulmer) are the stars of this fast-paced musical extravaganza. On 11 December, Afro-Latinx, non-binary drag king CHIYO also joined the Kings and performed an explosively raunchy striptease in which he started off wearing a suit adorned with a glittery ‘F**K BORIS’ and strutting around a briefcase that reads ‘Tory Tosser’.

The show opens with the Kings lip-syncing to East 17’s Stay Another Day before Travulva establishes himself as host and welcomes the audience. Adopting the name of Santa for the festivities, Travulva wears a red and white Santa robe and fake beard and does an excellent job engaging the crowd.

There are plenty of classic Christmas tunes. Free, wearing an Elvis wig and the King’s signature white suit, sings Blue Christmas and Limbersnake and Travulva close the show with a rendition of All I Want For Christmas Is You while dressed as polar bears (the pun on the gay slang term ‘bear’ very much intended). There is a rousing sing-a-long of a parody of Oh I Wish I Could Be Christmas Every Day – in this case, Oh I Wish That Every Christmas Could Be Gay – which is a great way to involve the audience.

Another iconic Christmas reference is a performance of the Plastics’ dance to Jingle Bell Rock from the movie Mean Girls. There is strong choreography (Lauren Steele) throughout the show and the cast do well to keep up with some pretty intense steps.

The show gets markedly more explicit in the second half. Limbersnake has perhaps the raciest dance of the night as he proclaims that he ‘loves being chunky’ before stripping down from his chef’s attire into a mankini while spraying whipped cream over his body. Willis also has a seductive number where he rolls around in a pile of trash dressed in an all green suit, wig and even dyed underarm hair to resemble the Grinch.

There are strong political themes that run throughout in part due to the upcoming election. From CHIYO’s performance to overt appeals to vote Labour, the Kings do not shy away from making their anger at the current establishment known. There is also a vague plot of Willis trying to discover why he is so unhappy in himself by visiting toxic masculinity past, present and future, and the Kings make sure to note that Christmas can be a difficult or sad time for many LGBT+ people as so much of the holiday revolves around seeing family.

The stage is fabulous though simple. Silver foil fringe curtains act as a backdrop and run along each side of the stage and four Christmas trees surrounded by presents decorate. The lighting (James Dawson) changes according to the mood and sultry reds and pinks are used for sexy numbers. There are few props (which Travulva jokes about) but this in no way hinders the performance.

Pecsmas is a thoroughly unique Christmas spectacular. The King’s confidence and presence on stage can only be admired and even the most prudish will find themselves revelling in the show’s risqué holiday showcase.

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Harry Elletson

 


Pecsmas

The Yard Theatre until 20th December

 

Last  ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Call it a Day | ★★★ | January 2019
Hotter Than A Pan | ★★★★ | January 2019
Plastic Soul | ★★★★ | January 2019
A Sea Of Troubles | ★★★★★ | February 2019
Cuteness Forensics | ★★½ | February 2019
Sex Sex Men Men | ★★★★★ | February 2019
To Move In Time | ★★½ | February 2019
Ways To Submit | ★★★★ | February 2019
Armadillo | ★★★★ | June 2019
Dirty Crusty | ★★★★ | November 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Red Palace

★★★½

The Vaults

Red Palace

Red Palace

The Vaults

Reviewed – 2nd October 2019

★★★½

 

“All the necessary components are there … I could just do with a little more amazement and a little less explanation”

 

Shotgun Carousel’s reputation for outlandish and stunningly executed immersive events far precedes their current show, Red Palace. After last year’s outrageously decadent Divine Proportions, I was fully prepared for an evening of hedonistic debauchery, expertly implemented to lavish excess.

he concept (Laura Drake Chambers) is strong from the start, and all-encompassing: There is a prophesy known across the land that after a thousand days on the throne, the tyrant prince will come to a bloody end. But the prince has no intention of giving up his rule and instead he’s throwing a party on the very day this prophecy should come to pass. Dress code is “your best ball attire and a mask to match” ( don’t worry, you can borrow a mask at the box office). It really is very effective to walk in to a dimly lit room full of masked faces, even if you know most of those are your fellow audience members.

For those who decide to indulge, dinner is served before the main event in a gallery overlooking the hoi polloi. MasterChef semi-finalist Annie McKenzie has whipped up a true feast – I’ll be thinking about that sticky honey soda bread with whipped rosemary butter for days to come, and I only wish I’d snuck in some tupperware for a little more of that rich, crispy shallot tarte tatin.

Performances are promised throughout dinner, but instead we’re occasionally introduced to a character from the main show’s narrative who we’ll no doubt encounter again later in the evening. This is a little disappointing: A performance suggests something of a spectacle and instead we have a preview of a show we’re already signed up to see. The cast themselves are magnificently adorned (Maeve Black) in gothic glamour, and they each play their parts with impressive commitment, even when hassled by substandard audience banter.

The show itself, directed by Celine Lowenthal, takes over the majority of The Vaults, sending the audience sprawling across various nooks and crannies throughout the venue. Initially there’s a sense that we might wander casually from room to room, making discoveries for ourselves, but after the first, we’re shepherded from one spot to the other to observe various necessary parts of the evening’s main plot.

The aesthetics don’t disappoint. Every space has been lovingly crafted to create vastly different atmospheres in each: Snow (White), styled as Barbie Madonna, is throwing a very sad birthday party in her sickly pink boudoir; Gretel (of the famous brother and sister duo) hosts an illegal cabaret with bathtub gin to boot; Red (Riding Hood) hides in the dark, dank forest, plotting her revenge against the prince. But concepts aren’t quite taken to their fabulous potential so within reach. Instead there’s a slight amateur fiddliness to it all, causing a lag between the evening’s tent-pole performances, and slightly sapping the fun out of it as the audience shuffles from one room to the next.

All the necessary components are there: stunning designs, exquisite food, engrossing performances and a well thought out concept. I could just do with a little more amazement and a little less explanation. No need to continuously force feed us the plot, we just want to have a radically decadent unicorn of an evening. Whilst for most that would be too much to ask, it’s what we’ve come to expect from Shotgun Carousel, and on this occasion they’ve just missed the mark.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Nic Kane

 


Red Palace

The Vaults until 12th January 2020

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Donal The Numb | ★★★★ | March 2019
Essex Girl | ★★★★ | March 2019
Feed | ★★★★ | March 2019
How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | March 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Bare: A Pop Opera | ★★★ | June 2019
Black Is The Color Of My Voice | ★★★★ | June 2019
Me and my Whale | ★★★ | June 2019
The Falcon’s Malteser | ★★★★★ | July 2019

 

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