A cross between Star Trek and Russ Meyer, this kitsch sci-fi musical was originally a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1995 where it was aimed in particular at people more at home in bars and clubs than in theatres. The basement cabaret-style of The Venue is therefore the perfect setting for a cult show which is sure to appeal to the kind of audience who relish the tongue-in-cheek campness of The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Return to the Forbidden Planet.
So while this collaborative exercise in low camp (book by Charlotte Mann, lyrics by Charlotte Mann and Michael Fidler, and music by Jonathan Croose and Robin Forrest) does not exactly boldly go where no musical has gone before, it certainly entertains with its up-front flaunting of seedy glamour. Liz Cooke's set design includes a bar where members of the cast serve drinks to theatregoers (but not actually during the performance!), in a show which has plenty of audience interaction.
The setting is Saucy Jack's sleazy nightclub on Planet Frottage III, where several of the acts have been murdered by the 'Slingback Killer', who punctures his victims with the heel of a sequined shoe. It seems that any performer who tries to leave the club in a bid for the big time in showbiz is in danger so the intergalactic crime-fighting Space Vixens arrive to investigate. But their leader, Jubilee Climax, is an old flame of the suspect Saucy Jack – will her policing duties be compromised by her emotions?
The story, of course, is just a pretext for a space-age romp of dubious taste, where double entendres are outnumbered only by sequins. The dialogue isn’t exactly subtle and the songs are mainly pastiches of disco anthems (with a few torch songs thrown in), but director Michael Fidler and Strictly Come Dancing choreographer Bruno Tonioli make sure the show turns its headlamps on full beam in a riot of glam and glitz. Any substance beneath the style is voiced by the part-narrator and bar-fly cod-psychiatrist Dr von Whackoff, who urges people to forget their inhibitions and express themselves as they desire.