Tag Archives: James Dawson



The Yard Theatre



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 Potts) 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



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


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Funeral Flowers

The Bunker

Funeral Flowers

Funeral Flowers

The Bunker

Reviewed – 17th April 2019



“this production leaves its audience invested, breathless and nurturing a small bud of hope”


The dark space of The Bunker Theatre glows dimly as we enter. As our eyes adjust, it’s clear that one wall shimmers with suspended flowers, gradually phasing through colours from chilly blues to glowing pinks. With this, we step into Angelique’s world.

This one-woman show from Harts Theatre Company and Power Play brings us a story that, tragically, is not new. Angelique finds herself all too alone in the world, with her mum incarcerated and her dad (‘the sperm donor’) invisible. We follow her, literally, in this promenade piece, as she struggles to navigate the care system and independent living. This tale could be all too familiar, but Angelique, who shares her name with a type of tulip, wants to be a florist. Her spaces and thoughts brim with flowers, and we find ourselves swept into this world. Through the prism of her floral inner and outer life, her tale takes on new significance.

Funeral Flowers’ immersive success owes a huge debt to dreamy, flower-filled set design of Minglu Wang. The black box of The Bunker takes on astonishing beauty – not for nothing are several florists credited on the programme. These spaces become menacing when the story darkens using clever lighting from James Dawson.

Emma Dennis-Edwards is compelling as our protagonist. The challenge of representing a teenager peeks through at times (especially during the longish opening scene) where her moods and mannerisms can feel affected, even exaggerated. In her more nuanced moments though, she’s riveting to watch – not for nothing does this show carry a warning of triggering scenes of sexual violence. Credit must be given to the production for handling this so sensitively, with warnings in advance via the website and programme, the option of leaving and returning another time proffered and details to survivor support services signposted.

There are moments that don’t hold together as well as Dennis-Edwards’ performance and Rachel Nwokoro’s confident direction. A little audience engagement is fun but its purpose is unclear, and the hurly-burly of fitting the sizeable audience into the confined seating area at the start (an impossible task) means that we begin a good ten minutes late. But these fade away when Dennis-Edwards brings her irrepressible cast of characters to the stage, each one as real as the next. This is especially true of her rendering of Angelique’s sometime boyfriend Ricky. Spoiler alert: Ricky is not a nice man. Dennis-Edwards has the audience reacting with audible gasps at some of his behaviour.

The presence of the flower wall calls to mind the work of artist Anya Gallaccio, who created vast installations of cut flowers which are allowed to gradually die away. As the performance comes to a close, it’s not clear whether Angelique will flourish or herself wither and die. What is clear is that this production leaves its audience invested, breathless and nurturing a small bud of hope.


Reviewed by Abi Davies

Photography by Kofi Dwaah


Funeral Flowers

The Bunker until 4th May


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Reboot: Shorts 2 | ★★★★ | October 2018
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


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