China Blue Fish and Deborah Antoinette first met at Bristol artist’s collective Co-resist where they bonded over a love of feminism, the environment and clowning (the two are both registered clowns). Queen C*nt, their irreverent and unpredictable sketch show, aims to 'unleash the power' of the C word and reclaim the female body.
From the get-go the audience is treated to the pair’s wry take on femininity.
From the get-go the audience is treated to the pair’s wry take on femininity as the two are already poised on stage before the audience even take their seats. Panting heavily and posing seductively in full snake costume, the two start to chomp furiously on bright red apples. 'Do you think they get the Bible reference?' they ask each other coyly.
As the show continues, Queen C*nt becomes most brilliant in its absurdity. A sex-obsessed Theresa May humps a (surprisingly enthusiastic) audience member. A gin slugging Virgin Mary embarks on a drunken rant about the non-consensual nature of the immaculate conception and stage manager Naomi Smith clears props from the stage dressed as a giant clitoris.
Unfortunately though, these moments of brilliance are clouded by their clumsy handling of the iconic Frida Kahlo. When Antoinette enters on stage in full Frida get-up, sporting a fake monobrow and an exaggerated Mexican accent, it feels appropriative rather than subversive. As Antoinette dives into a sweary monologue, it becomes clear that the scene’s purpose is to go into lurid detail about the artist’s sex life and not to pay homage to the communist revolutionary.
Similarly disappointing was Fish’s appearance as Burt the Drag King. A confusing character whose main comedic contribution to the show seemed to be the fake penis dangling from his tight leather trousers. For a performance that is trying to subvert traditional views of gender, I found it hard to see how a Drag King was a worthy target of mockery.
Although the show started out excellently, after two hours of genitalia-based humour, I found my attention span wearing thin as we were encouraged to sing a Hymn (or Herr) about smashing the patriarchy. While Fish and Antoinette are clearly very talented performers, Queen C*nt’s lack of self-reflection prevents it from starting a real revolution.