Sunday, 5 September 2021

REVIEW: Pecs Drag Kings- ‘The Boys are back in Town’ at the Soho Theatre

‘The Boys are Back in Town’ is undeniably a celebration of queerness, feminism and inclusivity. Alongside the Soho party atmosphere and the use of recognisable gay anthems, it was refreshing to be indulged in an immersive performance after the negative impact we faced in theatre during (and after) lockdown.  

Pecs Drag Kings are a talented company of female and non-binary performers who explore sexuality, gender identities and politics. Since 2013 they have been creating highly entertaining drag shows through song, dance and comedy; creating sexy and risqué pieces of theatre.

The small yet brilliant company of casts and creatives involves Isabel Adomakoh Young, Rosie Potts, Jodie Mitchell, Lauren Steele, Helena Fallstrom, Katy Bulmer and Vic Aubrey; all under the careful production of Daisy Hale and Ellen Spence.

Though Drag Kings first got their titles as recently as 1972, the history of female-identifying performers dressing in masculine clothes reaches back as far as the 1700’s. Only now with Drag Queen artists becoming so popular, with a lot of exposure (Ru Pauls Drag Race, for example), Drag Kings are starting to gain a little more attention and representation.

Upon entering the Soho Theatre, the atmosphere immediately sets the scene for a party, thanks to the lighting and sound designers. With classic party songs playing, purple lighting and glitter on the stage, we know as an audience that this piece is going to be fun and entertaining.

Even though the production has a powerful meaning and explores important themes, I do feel as though it falls short in several areas. My main issue is that it lacks sustainability and dips in and out of strong and secure energy. The strength of Mitchells’ stand-up comedy skills, character development and confidence are not matched by all of their other company members at all times. Perhaps this is from lack of experience in this specific genre, but I feel as though a few of the other artists lack commitment to their characters (and their questionable accents in some places!). In the first group number which opened the show, it was quite noticeable that a few of the artists were quite nervous, therefore they came across as being slightly under committed. 

The material is quite repetitive in places with similar jokes being made throughout the hour-long show; it is evident that all the creatives involved in this company have incredible comedic intellect, so surely not all of the scripted jokes need to be about lockdown? 

Anyone who is a fan of drag knows how iconic and traditional ‘lip syncing’ is, and I feel really let down by this aspect of the show. It could be sharper and have more energy.

This being said, there are some stand out moments from Isobel Adomakah, Helena Fallstrom and Rosie Potts. Their material is comedic, intellectual, brave and pure genius. It was so wonderful to hear an auditorium full of people in fits of laughter, and these three performers really hit that mark in my opinion. 

Another personal highlight is the fantastic use of hair costume and makeup. The fact that each king design and make their own costumes is incredibly impressive, especially when they look so effective. My favourite piece is a fabulous snakeskin unitard, made and worn by Katy Bulmer when performing as ‘Loose Willis’.

This company have worked so hard and this show really does have the potential to be great. Aside from a few ropey areas, this piece is a lot of fun, it’s exciting, it brings communities together, celebrates inclusivity and the audience undeniably have an excellent time. 

‘The Boys are back in town’ is running until the 4th September at the Soho Theatre, W1D 3NE.
Review by Isabella Kirkpatrick

Rating: ★★★

Seat: G2 | Price of Ticket: £21

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