Pleasance Theatre, London – until 22 December 2019
What is it? Set in a dystopian future, Escape From Planet Trash is a campy, music filled extravaganza with a lighthearted self awareness, in which two space explorers embark on a mission to save Planet Trash from an incoming solar flare, ultimately getting more than they bargained for.
What is it all about? It’s the year 2050, and – following the break down of their solar system – a colony of survivors roam the universe in search of a solution to the environmental crisis facing their cosmos. When Captain Houston (Mairi Houston) and her dutiful companion Private Parts (Mahatma Khandi) discover a stress signal from what they believe to be an unknown planet, they venture out from the community in search of life.
There they find the bold, brash, and impossibly Geordie, Ginger Johnson, who lives in a make shift corrugated iron house adorned with fairy lights powered by her gloriously innocent son, Sonny Jim Johnson (David Cumming). While this unlikely team of comrades argue over whether or not to leave the wasteland they’ve learned to call home, a bigger threat approaches. The gang must work together to defeat the ultimate evil; a band of villainous turkeys who have come to avenge their brothers lost on christmases gone by, and destroy the human race forever.
Combining drag, panto, sci-fi, musical numbers, and a sprinkling of Christmas spirit, Escape from Planet Trash is a slapstick cabaret that celebrates the ridiculousness of life on Earth.
How did it make me feel? The show is vibrant, lively, and lucid, making the most of the stage to create a space age set which transports you to the wonderful world of Planet Trash. The prismatic lighting is visually engaging and the live music is a real treat. At times, the acting is wonderful, with exuberant performances from Johnson and Cumming, supported by the detailed costume which encapsulates each character’s vivid personality.
However, there are times when the show seems stilted; actors are stumbling over lines, jokes are lost due to delivery, so overall the performance is not entirely clean or comfortable. The musical numbers offer glimmers of brilliance, with strong vocal performances, but again, there are times when the performance is slightly lacking, and the actors seem unsure of themselves.
The theme of love and acceptance is touching, and this take on the devastating effects of climate change is original and topical, but the meaningful musical moments and soundbite of Greta Thunberg’s United Nations speech seem misplaced among bawdy jokes and pantomime tropes, not allowing the audience to fully appreciate the gravity of the show’s message. It seems the show lacks direction, or an overall arc.
While the show replies too much on shock factor for substance, using predictable crude humour and hollow sexual references, jokes were mostly brilliantly executed, and earned raucous laughter from many audience members.
Anything else? It should be noted that cast member Ginger Johnson is also the creative champion of this upbeat, festive spectacle. As the head of collective Sink The Pink, she has written, directed, and designed the show, creating a fully realised vision that fuses the worlds of drag, panto, musical theatre, and fantasy.
If visual humour and high-spirited fun is your thing, then Escape From Planet Trash is for you. Zoe x Escape From Planet Trash is playing at the Pleasance Theatre until the 22nd December 2019. If you like our reviews and want to support this blog feel free to buy any of us a virtual coffee here!