By Sink The Pink
At The Pleasance Theatre, London until Dec 22nd 2019
For a concept so inherently camp, pantomimes rarely fulfil their possibilities. When LGBTQ collective Sink the Pink put one on at the Pleasance, my hopes were high.
The set smokes with anticipation as we get settled, like it’s lying in wait. Through the play it transforms multiple times, with a fun design and characterful dressing that make creative use of the stage, and thoughtful lighting to complement the shifts in setting.
We start with a barrage of exposition, much of which I don’t really follow, then a neat segue into the first musical number. This is a hint of what’s to come; the loose story strings together what feels more like a series of related sketches.
Mairi Houston commands the stage as Star Corps captain, and delivers some of the best songs. David Cumming’s character, Sonny, drives much of the emotional arc, and he carries it well with a peculiar and endearing presence onstage. A couple of issues with audio mean that some performances don’t quite get done justice, but the cast cope well.
Some of the most fun moments happen when everyone is onstage. They’re clearly delighted to have a rotating stage to play with, and it’s a pleasure to see them make good use of it. Having them all onstage at once also gives us a chance to enjoy the full range of the outrageous and wonderful costumes.
The jokes are pantomime quality, and perhaps I hadn’t drunk as much as I should have, but I’d have liked more of them. Jokes about weight and ambiguous genders are standard for panto, but it’s a little strange to see a few employed here without more complexity. Other comedy lands more powerfully; the second half introduces a spectacularly satirical pair of space travellers who skewer the trope of exploitative, photo-happy tourists.
If you’re looking for a pantomime that strays from the fairytale but hits all the usual bases, Planet Trash is the place for you – as long as you can cope with the smell.
© Anna Lewis 2019
© Image Ali Wright