Pecs: Christmas Queer
Reviewed – 11th December 2020
“a momentary haven of queer togetherness in what has been a challenging and isolating cultural landscape for many people this year”
Pecs, the drag king collective, has been around on the queer circuit for seven years now. The boys are arguably the best-known kings in town, and have built up a loyal fan-base for their brand of sexy and subversive comedy cabaret performance. Queer cabaret has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic – relying as it does on intimate club spaces – and so it was a joy to be back in a room with groups of friends sharing tables surrounding a stage, and to enjoy some of the back and forth interaction between performer and audience that has been so sorely lacking for most of this year. The Pleasance has done a terrific job of retaining a lively atmosphere, whilst operating within COVID-safe guidelines; an effort enjoyed last night by performers and punters alike.
The kings themselves are fabulous. The evening is hosted by the inimitable John Travulva, giving us his best Santa, and is loosely structured around the need to save Christmas for the dejected Loose Willis. Loose gives voice to many of the frustrations the audience has felt this year, and thus Santa John’s restorative skills are much-needed medicine for us all. The evening is sexy and joyful. There is old-school crooning: Scott Free’s fantastic rendition of Rocking Around the Christmas Tree; striptease: a smouldering Victor Victorious and an anarchic Loose giving us two entirely different takes; an audience game of charades; stand-up; dance routines and even a Paul Hollywood impersonation thrown in for good measure. In true drag style, this was a Glaswegian doing an impression of a Scouser, but with a Brummie accent, as (self-confessedly) Scouse is the one accent not in their armoury. The ridiculousness was heaven. And Paul was perfect. Obvs.
For all its light-hearted festive razzle dazzle, Christmas Queer did also have the feeling of something essential. Pecs at The Pleasance was a momentary haven of queer togetherness in what has been a challenging and isolating cultural landscape for many people this year. When the lighters and the phones came out for the final number – East 17’s Stay Another Day – there was a feeling of genuine love underneath the silliness. And what could be more Christmassy than that?
Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw
Photography by Stephen Allwright
Pecs: Christmas Queer
Pleasance Theatre until 12th December part of Queer Christmas Cabaret running until 22nd December
Previously reviewed at this venue: