Tag Archives: Mahatma Khandi

Dog Show

Dog Show

★★★★★

Pleasance Theatre

Dog Show

Dog Show

Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 1st December 2021

★★★★★

 

“a barkingly mad show, but it is smart and even touching at times”

 

What’s the festive period without a riotous new show by drag queen Ginger Johnson? This year, Ginger, accompanied by the show’s co-creator David Cumming and performers Rudy Jeevanjee, Mahatma Khandi and Azara, welcome us to Crappersea Dog Pound for an evening of muzzles off entertainment.

The premise is thus: the audience are all new dogs at the pound hoping to be adopted by a loving family for Christmas. Before their hopefully happy departing, the resident dogs – led by the immensely talented Ginger – have decided to tell us new recruits what possible fates could await us in the human world – from being a social media pup to suffering through degrading obedience training. What follows is a feast for the eyes and ears; a cabaret variety show filled with singing, dancing, comedy, spoken word and rap on the glitzy Pleasance stage.

Of course, as expected, the show is downright filthy. But there is more to the double entendre than might initially meet the eye. Dog Show is a thoroughly queer show and uses its campy premise to effectively explore how the queer community and its kinky subdivisions are viewed by wider society. Notions of embracing freedom and rejecting control and dominance come up again and again and culminate in a finale song that rings like a warrior cry to not obey the man and instead forge your own path. The writing is brilliantly witty, and the aforementioned themes are weaved beautifully throughout the show even at its most absurd moments.

All the performers are phenomenal. Ginger is, as expected, an excellent compere and Cumming’s is exceedingly funny in his various roles. Jeevanjee, Khandi and Azara all bring fantastic energy to the show and contribute excellent solo performances. All five cast members are incredibly polished with not a note, foot or word out of place.

The audience is treated to song after song from the performers with brief pauses for amusing talking head comedy. The show moves along at a great pace; blink and you will miss some hilarious joke or lyric. Stand out songs are certainly Azara’s rap about gender roles and Cumming’s Act Two opener about humping the foot stool. Special mention must also go to Ginger and Cumming’s song about Laika, the Soviet space dog who was the first animal to orbit the Earth. Closing Act Two, this song marked a significant tonal shift as the audience is asked to reflect on the canine’s tragic fate and lack of choice.

The set, designed by Ginger herself, is reminiscent of old Soho and club back alleys. Four slats of ‘brick’ wall create different formations on stage and there is no shortage of props such as a rideable toy jeep to add to the fun. The lighting (Rachel Sampley) contributes beautifully to the seedy atmosphere with flickering neon and flashing strobes. With the cast parading around in ripped clothes, floppy ears and sparkly tails, the visual spectacle of the show is completely engrossing.

Dog Show is a barkingly mad show, but it is smart and even touching at times. If you embrace the weirdness and absurdity of it all, you are in for a real treat.

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Ali Wright

 


Dog Show

Pleasance Theatre until 19th December

 

Previously reviewed at this venue this year:
Catching Comets | ★★★★ | September 2021
Express G&S | ★★★★ | June 2021
Ginger Johnson & Pals | ★★★★ | June 2021
Godot is a Woman | ★★★½ | June 2021
Lights Out | ★★★★ | October 2021

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Escape From Planet Trash

★★★

Pleasance Theatre

Escape From Planet Trash

Escape From Planet Trash

Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 21st November 2019

★★★

 

“combines drag, sci-fi and innuendo galore to create the perfect foil for the abundance of family-friendly shows on for the holidays”

 

It is the year 2050. Earth is no more and is instead known as Planet Trash, the dumping ground for the entire universe. East London drag queen Ginger Johnson and her 28-year-old son Sonny (David Cumming) are its last survivors and spend their days foraging through rubbish. That is until an impending solar flare threatens to obliterate the planet and a discarded weapon that the Intergalactic Government is desperate to get its hands on. Cue the arrival of the Captain of the Star Corp voyager (Mairi Houston) and the ambiguously gendered Private P. P. Parts (Mahatma Khandi).

Their quest, however, soon turns sour when an army of mutant turkeys decide to seek revenge on the human race for having eaten them at Christmases past. Now, it’s up to Ginger and Sonny to save the day and stop the eradication of mankind. Sink the Pink’s brand-new seasonal production Escape From Planet Trash combines drag, sci-fi and innuendo galore to create the perfect foil for the abundance of family-friendly shows on for the holidays.

Johnson and Cumming are the strongest in their roles, with the former having no trouble working the crowd. The rest of the cast sadly do not always seem sure of themselves or their lines. The plot that is set up in the play’s opening scenes is unfortunately rather quickly forgotten. Loose ends are rife in this production and the solar flare and ever-so-important weapon hardly get a look-in.

There are some moments of serious commentary. The play reflects on the climate crisis and capitalist greed and drag artists Maxi More and Lavinia Co-op join the cast as two dark tourists travelling the galaxy. Silliness however wins out in Escape From Planet Trash but without a solid narrative – which Ginger in fact jokes about the play needing – it is hard to be fully invested.

The set is multi-tiered with characters able to ascend and descend several sets of stairs. This makes for some dynamic visuals even when little else is happening on stage. To the left of the stage, the entrance to a sewer pipe and, above it, the interior of Star Corp’s spaceship. To the right, the tin shack house of Ginger and Sonny complete with rooftop terrace and light-up HOME sign. The centre of the stage sits on a rotating platform which allows for some great reveals such as Lavinia tap dancing as the Johnson’s home spins around. The set did pose a few hiccups including the shack’s door swinging open unexpectedly and revealing actors preparing for the next scene.

The lighting (Clancy Flynn) is solid throughout and used atmospherically. Costumes (Julia Smith) are a lot of fun with Ginger wearing a particularly ostentatious white plastic see through mesh bodysuit with a clear plastic overcoat.

The musical direction (Sarah Bodalbhai) is overall very strong. A rendition of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python’s Life of Brian (which the cast sing to a literal piece of shit played by Lavinia) that ends with a reference to the ‘dis-gus-tang’ video meme is a definite highlight. All the songs are a real blast though the cast do struggle to get the audience to sing along even at moments which beg for it. A finale song would also be good to round off the show in true pantomime fashion.

Escape From Planet Trash is a barrel of laughs and as silly as it is campy. Though the production lacks polish at times, you would be hard-pressed to not enjoy Sink the Pink’s newest endeavour.

 

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Ali Wright

 


Escape From Planet Trash

Pleasance Theatre until 22nd December

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Accident Did Not Take Place | ★★ | October 2019
The Fetch Wilson | ★★★★ | October 2019
The Hypnotist | ★★½ | October 2019
The Perfect Companion | ★★★★ | October 2019
The Unseen Hour | ★★★★ | October 2019
Endless Second | ★★★ | November 2019
Heroin(e) For Breakfast | ★★★★★ | November 2019
Land Of My Fathers And Mothers And Some Other People | ★★★★ | November 2019
Madame Ovary | ★★★★★ | November 2019
Wireless Operator | ★★★★ | November 2019

 

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