Clementine the Living Fashion Doll's Seasonal Spectacular
  • By Pete Shaw
  • |
  • 11th Dec 2015
  • |
  • ★★★★

Although only 15 inches tall, Clementine is still a mighty big talent. She’s also the hostess of possibly the most original Christmas show you’re ever likely to witness.

Clementine’s Seasonal Spectacular is one helluva way to celebrate Christmas.

Clementine’s Seasonal Spectacular defies pigeon-holing. The first act is a grab bag of drag / puppetry sketch and song, interspersed with a very generous helping of video clips (ostensibly backstage with our leading lady as she deals with the other characters in her show), followed by an adult-style panto in the second act. Brimming with camp innuendo, gratuitous topless beefcake, iconic gay cultural references and gags that only work because they’re puppets, Clementine certainly packs a lot in in under two hours.

Joining Clem are a glittering array of characters including her closeted boyfriend Ken Doll, fame-hungry usherette Yvette, evil Heddy – the bodiless toy styling head and Genie of the Lamp played by real-life fitness model Jack Jefferson. These creations stick with Clem throughout the show, whereas others like Ricky Rooster (a cockerel with Elvis’ hips) and Betty Bar-Fly (an insect with Bulimia issues) only get a brief moment in the spotlight. Steve Nallon – well-known to a generation for Spitting Image – provides the vocals for the panto, including a welcome return of his definitive Margaret Thatcher for the villain.

The first half of the show is marginally less successful than the second. The reliance on video interludes is at times a little too strong and gags in musical numbers occasionally don't last as long as the song, but this is more than made up for in the ever-after tale of Snow White that is the second act. Woodland animals steal scenes, Clem goes diving in her own submarine and we get a big Las Vegas ending – all painted on a 007-style landscape of evil villains and Pussy Galore. It’s just sublime.

Clementine’s alter ego Mark Mander is prodigiously talented. Bringing life to this diminutive fashion icon has some untrivial technical challenges, but Mander can reduce a room full of people to tears with a simple glance. His supporting puppeteers (most notably Stewart Fraser, who knows how to work a room) provide polished choreography including some cute asides, which must be the puppeteers’ equivalent of breaking the fourth wall. It also would be remiss not to give a nod to Rosemary Branch co-Artistic Directors Cecilia Darker and Cleo Sylvestre, whose cameo video appearance makes this bit of festive fun even more personalised.

Clementine’s Seasonal Spectacular is one helluva way to celebrate Christmas. 

Reviews by Pete Shaw

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★★★★★
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★★★★★

Since you’re here…

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Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Clementine is no ordinary doll. One night she made a wish on a falling star to be a ‘real girl’… and the next day she could walk, talk, sing, dance, act, and present TV!

Now the sparkly diva a mere 15 inches tall – is to make her London Christmas stage debut with her a feature-length show, Clementine’s Seasonal Spectacular, which will open for a 5-week season at the Rosemary Branch Theatre from Tuesday December 8 – Sunday January 10.

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