Review: Escape from Planet Trash (Pleasance Theatre)
Sink the Pink's return comes in a sci-fi bonanza
"Plot? We need some of that!" says drag queen Ginger Johnson, wading through the sewers, sniffing poppers and climbing through a butthole-shaped tunnel. Sink the Pink's second Christmas show Escape From Planet Trash may not make much sense but who cares, it's still a hell of a lot of fun.
It's 2050, planet Earth is covered in trash and the humans left long ago. Except Ginger and her son Sonny Jim (David Cummings), who have made a home for themselves amongst the debris. When queer space explorers Captain Houston (Mairi Houston) and Private Peepee Parts (Mahatma Khandi) land from a space colony to rescue them, the foursome go on a strange adventure to save the human race from something more dangerous: an army of turkeys.
Strange? Yes. Entertaining? Most definitely. The show takes a while to settle in – the second act is better than the first – and balances being a pantomime (a sing-song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" features), call-out about global warming (while singing to the Earth, a Greta Thunberg speech plays) and classic camp fun. Johnson's script is consistently hilarious, perfectly mixing panto-style wordplay with dirty jokes and meme culture. The production probably has the best reference to a viral video I've seen in a show, and has the audience in stitches.
The songs peppered throughout are a smorgasbord of delight. Where else would you find a parody of Queen's "Flash" (aka "Trash"), a doo-wop version of Peter Andre's "Mysterious Girl" and a sassy "Final Countdown"? The reaction from the audience when they realise what each song is is delightful – the performers have them on side throughout the entire show. Special mentions must go to Houston for her strong and stunning vocals, and Cummings for a bouncing-off-the-walls performance of "What's This?" from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The performers are clearly having a lot of fun in the show, running around the auditorium, climbing up ladders and emerging through sewer pipes. The use of the revolving stage is also great, though there are times where we are left in almost silence while it spins to show the trash house. There are a few microphone issues, but this is quickly rectified with a gag from Johnson: "I'm holding this sci-fi stick to keep hold of the memories" she says, clutching a microphone.
The cast are infectious to watch, and all provide something different for the show. Johnson and Cummings bring the broad strokes of panto to their northern Earth-dwellers while Houston gives an assured, more serious performance as the Captain. Khandi plays the dumb Private, though her accent slips between British and American with each sentence. Lavinia Coop and Maxi More are brilliant in their variety of smaller roles, from turkies to selfie-taking tourists on holiday to earth ("look at the devastation!") they are full of great one-liners.
Hilarious, full of talent and good camp fun, if you're looking for an alternative Christmas show, then this out-of-this-world one will really get the party started.