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If you like your drag queens coy, your stockings glittered and your innuendo very liberally sprinkled, this is a great, high energy start to your night out.
Featuring the employees of Saucy Jack's bar, a "debauched haven" on the planet Frottage III, a host of exotic characters parade through the audience. The rather basic plot means they're on the hunt for the Sling Back Killer, who is killing cabaret acts attempting to break out of this underground club. They are saved by the arrival of the intergalactic justice team, the Space Vixens, who have travelled to the planet to catch the serial killer. Their entrance number Glitterboots Saved my Life, in a cloud of dry ice and shoulder pads, was a highlight of the show and typical of what really worked in this late night cabaret.
The musical has had a cult following since its debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1995, enjoying three West End runs and productions across the globe. It's easy to see why: the celebration of being whoever you want to be is infectious. This production, however, didn't quite work all the time. Although there were some good performances, songs and atmosphere, there was a lack of substance in the plot, not helped by the fact that the audience learns who the Sling Back Killer is right at the top of the show. The energy, which was gloriously sky high in the musical numbers, dived during the script that linked them. The production quality wasn't helped by backing tracks, complete with recorded backing vocals. Vocals and performances were good but inconsistent.
Saucy Jack himself is a steampunk pirate in platforms and pink eyeshadow, who is savage, sexual and more than a little creepy. The show's Frank-N-Furter equivalent, Ralph Bogard, has a stage presence which is surely felt from the street outside with vocals to match, although I sometimes felt alienated as an audience member by how aggressively he shouted in our faces. He and his former lover didn't have the chemistry needed to make their story believable, which made Jubilee Climax's otherwise beautiful ballad for him seem out of place. Jubilee, played by Jamie Birkett, is the stand out performance. Strong, sexy and with a fabulous pop belt, she's a joy every time she steps on stage.
If you like your drag queens coy, your stockings glittered and your innuendo very liberally sprinkled, this is a great, high energy start to your night out. It's not artistically impressive but the cast and audience had fun and we went out with a bang, singing I Want to be a Space Vixen as we skipped down the street.