Contact Theatre, Manchester
“They’re so glamorous. I can’t take my eyes off them.”
Bright, gaudy and fabulous, The Vaudevillians will send you whirling back to the 1920s. It’s overstated, it’s silly – and it’s a whole lot of fun.
The Vaudevillians, husband and wife duo Dr.Dan Von Dandy and Kitty Witless, have been frozen in ice since the 1920s, only to defrost and discover all of their original songs have been stolen and turned into popular music (the horror!). The story is a fun structure for a drag cabaret reimagining of songs such as Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and I Will Survive – each one backed up with a wacky story of how they came to write it. The stories are well observed and acutely poignant – with unexpected references to Ibsen’s The Doll’s House, and even a song dedicated to Marie Curie. Alongside the singing and storytelling is a smattering of audience participation and stand up, which walks the line of vulgarity (and hilarity) without stepping too far over it.
Jinkx Monsoon carries the show and kept the audience engaged and excited, with sharp jokes and observations. Her ability to interact with the audience – sitting on their laps, shouting out to them – and performing with her hands in a poor accountant’s mouth – was relentless and done with such a fast-paced improvisation. Her performance was silly, refined and executed with expertise. She is utterly fantastic to watch. Major Scales closely supported her – and managed to keep the show going through a costume change (a feat that I think is quite impressive). As a team, they are a real pleasure to watch.
Although silly on the surface, the show successfully plays with political issues and feels all too relevant to issues we’re facing today, with references to how not much has changed in the last one hundred years. There’s a serious message underlying the fun – that we need to face and tackle the obstacles that we come to face in the world.
The tour has ended now, but if you get a chance to catch The Vaudevillians in the future, it’s worth it. At the end of the day, until you’ve seen Jinkx Monsoon doing a handstand on an audience member’s lap, I feel as though you haven’t lived your best life. Definitely worth a watch.
© M. Holland 2017
This production has now closed but follow @JinkxMonsoon on Twitter for future performances.