‘Streaming feels like the show’s ideal home’: The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special – Soho Theatre (Online review)

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Clearly knowing they’re on to a good thing, Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme have reunited for their third holiday special The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special, a show which sees DeLa producing and directing for the first time as well as co-creating and co-writing with DeLa. And though much of the special electricity that characterises the best drag comes from a live environment, the take-off of a TV holiday special here means streaming feels like the show’s ideal home.

The plot, insofar as it matters, sees DeLa trying to convince Jinkx of the merits of a traditional Christmas but finding her convictions shaken as the spirit of her grandma speaks to her from a glass of eggnog. But even as you may scoff at how OTT the whole thing seems, there’s the kernel of something genuine underscoring the messaging that builds to something more substantial than candy canes and colourful costumes, a hard-won emotional truths that many LGBT+ folk will recognise all too well at this time of year.

And lest things get too serious, there’s a magnificent amount of festive filth and frolics here. Original songs (‘Everyone is Traumatised by Christmas’, ‘New and Gay’) composed by Major Scales and Keith Harrison rub shoulders with rewrites of more familiar music (‘A Gay in a Stranger’ may ruin ‘Away in a Manger’ for you for life!) and the shifts in genre are brilliantly worked – you may not expect the sleazy rap of ‘Santa Fa-La-La’ but how else would you soundtrack DeLa dry-humping Santa?

Most of all, it’s the utter strength of character that makes the show fly. The pair of them are clearly so comfortable in themselves and with each other that everything fits together like turkey and bread sauce. Jinkx’s hard-drinking and shagging sardonic demeanour (“we’re talking poppers not popcorn”) melted by divine intervention, the effervescence of DeLa’s American Dream struggling in the face of reality until the joyous finale. And throughout, a surfeit of real wit that dares just enough – I mean, who hasn’t wondered what if ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ was sung from the perspective of Mary and the Angel Gabriel…

The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special is streaming via Soho Theatre on Demand in the UK and at www.jinxanddela.com worldwide until January 2021

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on RssIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."

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