It’s always a fun moment when a series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK finishes, as we’re then able to see a new wave of drag talent take the stage. This winter is no exception, and ahead of a drag pantomime of Sleeping Beauty at the Harold Pinter Theatre starring Michael Marouli and Kate Butch, we have Season 5 winner Ginger Johnson bringing the festive-themed Ginger All the Way to London’s Soho Theatre.
We actually caught one of Ginger’s Christmas shows previously – How to Catch a Krampus back in 2018, presented by Sink the Pink – which we described as a “bizarre alternative to the usual Christmas fare” and Ginger All the Way falls into the same category.
The show comprises a mixture of short sketches and songs, accompanied by a live pianist, alongside a couple of pre-recorded sequences to afford Ginger opportunities for costume changes. It’s a brief production, breezing by in barely an hour. There are a handful of nods to the TV show that made her famous – there’s an iconic outfit, we get to meet her Snatch Game character, there’s a quip at the expense of Kate Butch’s makeup – but there’s plenty of other material in the show for those who aren’t up to speed with the latest season.
So – how is it? We had high expectations, given Ginger developed a reputation as both a clever queen and a comedy queen during her series – we were expecting a show that would be both smart and funny. While it certainly provides its audience with a fun, festive night out, we were a little disappointed to discover the show is light on big laughs. That’s not to say there aren’t any, they’re just few and far between. We were also expecting something a bit more subtle and nuanced – there are a handful of intelligent observations, but a lot of the humour is quite basic.
There are a couple of inspired moments – a segment where Ginger uses the John Lewis Christmas advert formula (i.e. melancholy acoustic covers) and applies it to popular jingles is amusing and inspired; while an upbeat musical theatre-inspired pastiche about stalking is both a well-written song and pretty funny – we’d have liked to have seen more like this. There’s an ambitious, lengthy song towards the show’s conclusion where Ginger is clearly using one of the props to prompt her for the lyrics – perhaps this is new material, but it feels a little jarring.
We still had a fun evening with Ginger All the Way, don’t get us wrong. It just feels like some of the ideas are still developing – while we had a perfectly enjoyable evening, we walked away from the theatre feeling like we’d seen something of a work in progress, as if this is a good idea for a show, but not quite the finished product.
GAY TIMES gives Ginger All the Way – 3/5
More information can be found here.