Tag Archives: Ellen Spence

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

 

Fuck You Pay Me

Fuck You Pay Me
★★★★

The Bunker

Fuck You Pay Me

Fuck You Pay Me

The Bunker

Press Night – 9th May 2019

★★★★

 

“funny and empowering without attempting to gloss over the hazards”

 

In true striptease style this lucidly written play observing the sex worker lifestyle must wait an age while the audience is warmed up. Stacey Clare reads extracts from her forthcoming book countering the stigma and stereotypes of stripping, setting a feminist compass and authentic tone for the evening, before Electric Girl performs an erotic dance to establish the more familiar face and form of the subject. With thunder seemingly stolen, Joana Nastari then takes the stage to narrate the typical evening at a dance club for One, a stripper, as she navigates the hapless regulars and predictable first-timers. Behind her, The Other, played by Charlotte Bickley operates the decks, playing music and occasionally chiming in as DJ Craig as well as voicing One’s phone, which slowly dies as her worried mother tries to make contact.

The tale is funny and empowering without attempting to gloss over the hazards of drugs and drink, the insecure employment and short-term lifestyle. We share the camaraderie of her co-workers as they respect one another’s ‘hustle’, but also the building concern represented by the mother’s missed calls. As a writer, Joana Nastari is perceptive and entertaining. As an actor, she establishes a rapport with her audience while being able to withdraw into scenes where more depth is needed.

Director Bethany Pitts, together with movement director Yami Lofvenberg, uses podia, pools of light, (lighting design, Martha Godfrey) fake fur and tinsel (designer, Naomi Kuyck-Cohen) to create the necessary stages, corners, cupboards and dressing rooms, enhanced by Charlotte Bickley’s rich sound design.

Producer Ellen Spence steers her female production team determinedly away from any danger of being too serious, while ensuring that the stereotype created by those who demean sex workers is thoroughly busted. In place of analysis, the team prefers to endorse the well-run strip club as a safe way for fun-loving adults to exploit each other’s needs.

The show might be more self-confident without the preamble (different performers will open each performance) but if you know how to extract whoops and cheers from an audience the temptation to is probably irresistible. However, in doing so, some of the idea is lost. It’s the intersection between the emotional support sex-workers provide for each other with the moral and campaigning support provided by modern feminism that makes this a fresh and fascinating production, one that needs no dressing up.

 

Reviewed by Dominic Gettins

Photography by Maurizio Martorana

 


Fuck You Pay Me

The Bunker until 19th May

The line up of special guests at each performance will be announced each day on FYPM’s social media

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Semites | ★★★ | October 2018
Chutney | ★★★ | November 2018
The Interpretation of Dreams | ★★★ | November 2018
Sam, The Good Person | ★★★ | January 2019
Welcome To The UK | ★★ | January 2019
Boots | ★★★★ | February 2019
Box Clever | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Killymuck | ★★★★ | March 2019
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com