Ginger Johnson and Pals
Reviewed – 4th June 2021
“something for everyone from the crude to the political to the downright silly”
After five long months of lockdown, theatres have once again opened their doors! And what better way to celebrate theatre’s glorious return than with an evening of ‘camp laughs [and] filthy looks’ courtesy of the ‘Pleasance’s own drag sweetheart Ginger Johnson’ in her new show Ginger Johnson and Pals.
Ginger’s pals for the show’s debut were Cheryl Dole, Evelyn Carnate and Midgitte Bardot who offered an eclectic mix of spoken word, burlesque, and singing. Between the guest performances, Ginger sung (including about all the ways one can die), played Agony Aunt to the audience (offering advice on such topics as what to do if your roommate boils fish fingers), and told amusing anecdotes (such as her debut in the world of ‘wet and messy’ fetishism).
Cheryl Dole, however, was the stand-out performer of the night. Dole took to the stage twice and wowed both times. Performing original poems merged with pop culture audio clips about women’s rights, Dole found the perfect balance between comedy and social commentary. A particular highlight was her retelling of the Medea myth intertwined with snippets from Meredith Brooks 1997 hit song ‘Bitch’.
Evelyn Carnate performed two different burlesque sequences. The first was more ‘traditional’ with slow, sensual movements and the obligatory nipple tassels. The second was much more comic featuring large peacock-style fans that Carnate mimed pleasuring herself with. The latter was a fantastic routine and better suited to the show’s overall tone.
Midgitte Bardot was the final performer. Seemingly uninterested in the performance at hand and lacking much professionalism, Bardot came to life singing the Yellow River Boys’ completely bizarre song ‘Hot Piss’ that she joked her grandmother used to sing to her. Though Bardot initially seemed to disrupt the show’s jolly pace with her unprepared appearance, she was quick to prove such an accusation wrong.
Ginger, as expected, was an excellent compere and was in her element when engaging with the audience. Her musical performances were also particularly strong and had the whole crowd singing and laughing along. It is also worth mentioning Ginger’s three outfit changes, each costume more stunning than the last.
The Pleasence did a phenomenal job at transforming their larger theatre space into a Covid-secure zone. Gone is the tightly packed seating stand having been replaced by round tables and bar stools across three levels. This set-up screams cabaret and, at least to this reviewer, is preferable to the typical seating arrangement due to its better views and opportunity for audience participation, though, of course, greatly reduces capacity.
The stage was large and circular with a red curtain at the back from which the performers came in and out. To the right of the stage was a staircase that served as an alternative entrance point though was unfortunately not used to its full dramatic effect especially during Carnate’s segments. The lighting was very well-timed and successfully set the tone on stage from white strobes during dance breaks to dark passionate red in Dole’s lamentation of patriarchal oppression.
Ginger Johnson and Pals is a highly engaging and entertaining show sure to please any crowd. Fast paced and extremely varied, Johnson’s show offers something for everyone from the crude to the political to the downright silly.
Reviewed by Flora Doble
Ginger Johnson and Pals
Pleasance Theatre until 5th June
Five star shows reviewed this year: