Dog Show, The Pleasance review – ‘barking mad cabaret where every dog has it’s gay’
☆★★★★ by Ifan Llewelyn
If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending a dog-inspired drag fetish cabaret show, you just aren’t living life, darling. The latest production to tread the boards of North London’s The Pleasance is the aptly-named Dog Show, which promises to “cock its leg at the fetishisation of queer bodies and queer culture”, and cock they did. This is one evening of performance that is sure to leave you dripping wet with excitement.
From the mind of drag powerhouse Ginger Johnson and collaborator David Cumming comes this eccentric variety show is comprised of sketches, breakdancing, burlesque, rap, spoken word, lip-sync and song. If that sounds like a lot to pack into a two-hour performance, then you’d be right, but Ginger and her cohort of hounds somehow manage to pull it off. Skits, bits and spoken word are weaved in between dazzling musical numbers, swinging from social commentary to absolute bombasity at neck-breaking speed.
On stage, Ginger is joined by Mahatma Khandi who endearingly portrays a high-flying Insta-pug, the shape-throwing and rhyme busting Azara, arresting beauty Rudy Jeevanjee plus her dashingly energetic co-director and co-writer David Cumming. Together they weave a psychedelic, stroke-inducing tapestry that explores the troubled lives of man’s best friend which, in turn, is intended to say something about the lived experiences of queer people. While the allegory becomes tenuous at times, it never fails to entertain and is sure to have you looking at your dog funny once you get back home.
While the evening is glittered with hilarious tidbits – most hilariously the pooches pitching themselves to you in the style of the Videocassette Dating of the eighties – there are two stand-out interludes that leave you panting like a labrador in heat. First is Cumming’s thrust-filled musical declaration of love to his soulmate – a pink, plush footstool. Yes, you guessed it, he’s “f**kig the footstool”. Beautifully performed and gut-twistingly hysterical, it’s a number you’ll embarrassingly catch yourself singing throughout your tube journey home.
The evening’s most unexpected spuib is an arresting portrayal of canine cosmonaut Laika, a dog sent to space by the Soviets. Coming way out of left field, Ginger masterfully draws you in as the spacefaring husky-spitz before slamming tragedy right down your throat. Clever sound mixing, innovating staging and overbearing lighting merge to create a truly awe-inspiring moment of theatre. Were this act a standalone production, theatre-goers would be chomping at the bit to secure their tickets.
Though a little rough around the edges, this is an unmissable evening of performance. The privilege of shocking colleagues with the declaration that your evening will be spent attending a drag-dog fetish cabaret is reason enough to pay these nasty mother-puppers a visit. With terrific costumes and catchy compositions, Dog Show is a barking mad cabaret where every dog has its gay.
Dog Show is playing at The Pleasance, N7 until Sunday, 19th December 2021. Tickets are available to purchase HERE.
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