Friday, 16 August 2013

Theatre review: Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens

I wouldn't have thought Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens needed a support act but it gets one anyway in Stuart Saint's revival in the bowels of Leicester Square Theatre. A three-piece ukulele-wielding cabaret act entertained us for the first half-hour tonight (I don't know if this part of the show changes nightly.) What should stay the same is the main event, Charlotte Mann, Michael Fidler, Jonathan Croose and Robin Forrest's musical of cosmic camp, a space opera set on the planet Frottage 3. Saucy Jack (Ralph Bogard) runs the eponymous seedy bar and cabaret, although the latter has fewer acts every night: The mysterious Slingback Killer is murdering them one by one, stabbing them with a sequinned high heel. Enter the Space Vixens, an all-female interplanetary police force dedicated to righting wrongs and teaching people the correct path (to the clitoris.) They also seem to have very strong feelings about man-made fibres, although I could never quite figure out if they're for them or against them.

Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens has no pretensions to be anything other than a lot of camp fun. It's a celebration of sexuality, kinks and double entendres, although the smutty jokes never get more adult than a Carry On level of naughtiness.

Saint's production doesn't have a big budget on its side (some of the costumes are literally held together by gaffer tape) but uses this to its advantage with a shabby-chic feel that matches its setting - and the cast don't want for enthusiasm. The kinky Dr Von Whackoff's (Marcus Reeves) duties as narrator are frequently interrupted by his efforts to get twinky barman Mitch Maypole (Kristopher Bosch) into bed, while the other bar regulars dream of the arrival of the Space Vixens: Sammy Sax (Nigel Thomas,) the last remaining cabaret act and therefore presumably next on the killer's hit list, hopes one of them will fall in love with him (Kate Malyon's Anna Labia quickly obliges) while waitress Booby Shevalle (David Malcolm) just wishes for a pair of glitter boots of her own.

The production's star name is Leanne Jones as Space Vixen Bunny Lingus, whose romance with Lisa Gorgin's Chesty Prospects isn't destined to end well, but the real breakout is Jamie Birkett as Jubilee Climax. In strong voice and powerful as the no-nonsense head Vixen, she's also properly hilarious in a flashback to her past life as an inept magician's assistant.

In a small, awkwardly-shaped space (although the catwalk-style set design does help improve on the venue's dodgy sightlines) with pre-recorded music, the singing isn't always that clear, even when amplified, so many gags in Mann and Fidler's lyrics are probably getting missed (though this does improve after the interval.) The songs themselves aren't classics but they're fun, lively and plenty of them have a decent tune - you'll come out humming the signature tune "Glitter Boots Saved My Life." Not as subversive as it probably thinks it is, Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is a lot of fun, and even if glitter boots don't save your life they should provide a silly, kinky night out.

Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens by Charlotte Mann, Michael Fidler, Jonathan Croose and Robin Forrest is booking until the 15th of September at the Leicester Square Theatre's Lounge.

Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes including cabaret and two intervals.

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