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King of Clubs

Kings of Clubs


VAULT Festival

KINGS OF CLUBS at the VAULT Festival


King of Clubs

“a passionate show with a clear message to tell”


Drag kings are all the rage as of late and deservedly so. Pushing the boundaries of gender and sexuality, kings don’t feel so directly the pressure to conform to the ‘yaaaas queen’ performance type often seen on a particular reality competition show.

Kings of Clubs: Fears, Phobias and F**k Ups is a condensed version of a monthly night at the legendary Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Hosted by one of the Rebel Dykes, King Frankie Sinatra, the showcase is a platform to celebrate everything king. One hour long and thus VAULT Festival appropriate, this iteration has a narrative thread of the frightening with varying degrees of seriousness.

Sinatra begins the show with a song about kings – his velvety voice immediately captivating. Before bringing on the first act, Sinatra does a long monologue about bees – their biggest fear. This is to set up the audience interaction going forward which involves audience members picking phobias from a glittery paper bag that relate to the next act. A word of warning – the phobias are written on gift tags attached to plastic critters which did give some arachnophobes a fright.

Sinatra is a good compere and their interactions with the audience are natural. It would have been great to see them perform more but understandably time was restricted.

Richard Melanin the Third is the first of three acts and performs a silent act dressed in full sparkly clown garb. It is a sweet performance with some amusing moments such as those with a mini piano but it is relatively low energy and repetitive.

Sweet FA is second and is accurately described as ‘what would happen if Alan Bennett did Sister Act’. They deliver an energetic and varied performance – a clever mash-up of songs interspersed with live performance and lip sync. Exploring the Catholic fear of the LGBTQ+ community, Sweet FA handles the topic with good humour and satire all whilst wearing a fashionable alb.

The show concludes with Prinx Silver, a popular performer and go-go dancer on the London queer scene. Clad all in leather, Silver dances to Macho Man by the Village People as it is cut with old audio of doctors warning against homosexuality. The routine ends with Gloria Gaynor’s I Am What I Am whilst Silver waves the trans flag conveniently pulled from his underpants.

Moving from coulrophobia to homophobia to transphobia, the show takes a serious and sincere turn in its last third. Referencing new self-identification system in Scotland that has been blocked by UK ministers, Sinatra warns the audience of internal division when we should all be fighting the common enemy, the heteronormative patriarchy. To conclude, Sinatra leads all in a singsong of Stand by Our Trans to the tune of Tammy Wynette’s Stand by Your Man.

The set has a simple dressing – a spider-like structure is constructed on the backwall from colourful fabric. Stagehand Callum moves props and the mic stand on and off the stage when necessary and performers make good use of the space regularly stepping off the raised stage to interact directly with the audience. More set dressing would have been nice – even a sign to say Kings of Clubs would have added more visual interest.

Kings of Clubs: Fears, Phobias and F**k Ups is a passionate show with a clear message to tell. The pace however is too slow and needs to be tightened up to pack a punch. More polish and a longer runtime would really provide this show with the platform it needs.


Reviewed on 3rd February 2023

by Flora Doble

Vault Festival 2023


Recently reviewed by Flora:


Lautrec | ★★★½ | Hen & Chickens Theatre | August 2022
The Witches of Oz | ★★★★ | The Vaults | September 2022
Diana: The Untold And Untrue Story | ★★★★ | Pleasance Theatre | November 2022
Who’s Holiday! | ★★★ | Southwark Playhouse Borough | December 2022
Le Gateau Chocolat: A Night at the Musicals | ★★★★ | Soho Theatre | January 2023


Click here to read all our latest reviews


Red Palace


The Vaults

Red Palace

Red Palace

The Vaults

Reviewed – 2nd October 2019



“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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