After the success of How to Catch a Krampus and Escape From Planet Trash, this year’s alternative Christmas show at London’s Pleasance Theatre will be the premiere of Dog Show, once again from the mind of Ginger Johnson, this time co-created and co-directed by Operation Mincemeat‘s David Cumming.
Dog Show runs from 24 November to 19 December 2021, with a press night on 1 December and a post-show Q&A chaired by MyTheatreMates founder Terri Paddock on 2 December.
Drawing heavily from the Weimar cabaret tradition, which grew in response to increasing division in society, Dog Show is a dog’s dinner of skits, songs, sketches, spoken word, socialism and sex. A love letter to all the bits of queer culture that are too dirty, drippy, complex and confrontational to be ‘accepted’ by ‘polite society.’
This is modern Queer Theatre: By Queers, For Queers. (Allies must be kept on a lead at all times *wink*).
Drawing on the visual language of kink to explore the idea of sexual shame and the modern fetishisation of queer culture, Dog Show unpacks the themes of freedom, control, dominance and power, all while serving up a spectacularly silly and sexy drag show.
Set amongst the flickering neon and steaming drains of what might, in another life, be old Soho, Dog Show features eye-popping set pieces designed by Ginger Johnson that give Moulin Rouge a run for its money. The design pulls visual inspiration from all the most outrageous corners of late-night queer culture – from club kids to kinksters, and the dance floor to the darkroom. Think Leigh Bowery goes to Crufts.
Dog Show features an original musical soundtrack that is just as much a mongrel as the characters themselves, with costume design from Kelli Des Jarlais and lighting design by Rachel Sampley.
It’s time for the muzzles to come off.
In addition to Johnson and Cumming, Dog Show features stand-out performers from across the queer cabaret scene, including Rudy Jeevanjee (The Cocoa Butter Club; ‘Legend in the Making 2019’, Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival), Azara (Just Another Day and Night; Sadler’s Wells; Talawa Theatre Company) and Mahatma Khandi (Escape from Planet Trash, Sink the Pink; How to Catch a Krampus, Pleasance Theatre Trust). Together, they bring an award-winning arsenal of skills including drag, comedy, breakdancing, burlesque, rap, spoken word, lip-sync and song.
Commenting on the new show, co-writers and directors David Cumming and Ginger Johnson said:
“Fascism is on the rise, communities are being divided, and the rich just keep getting richer – so, of course, we’ve decided to tackle all this through the medium of a Christmas show full of sexy, silly drag dogs.
“Part fantastical escapism, part satirical skewer, this kinky canine cabaret is our response to an increasingly hostile world where difference is discouraged, and freedom is conditional. And after the year we’ve just had, we think we all deserve some raucous, raunchy, revolutionary fun. It’ll be the dog bollocks – we promise – maybe even literally!”
What the critics say
The last two Christmas shows from Ginger Johnson at the Pleasance Theatre, produced with Sink the Pink, were sci-fi fantasy Escape from Planet Trash in 2019 and Gothic melodrama How to Catch a Krampus in 2018.
“It makes for a glorious kind of queer family fun” – ★★★★ Evening Standard
“Well, ain’t this fabulous?” – ★★★★ WhatsOnStage
“Bold, brassy and lots of fun” – ★★★★ The Stage
“Another Christmas Cracker!” – ★★★★ The Londonist
David Cumming – As a multi-award-winning horse-toothed show-off and co-AD of companies SpitLip and Kill the Beast, David specialises in smashing comedy, drama and music together to create shows that thrill, delight and break the mould. With his most recent work making The Observer’s ‘Top 10 Theatre Shows of the Year’ two years running (Frankenstein & Operation Mincemeat), David is fast making a name for himself as an innovator in his field. His Geordie alt-drag alter-ego Cheryl Dole can be found by the bins of a queer club near you.
Ginger Johnson – Ginger is a writer, artist and theatre-maker with a sweet tooth for the ridiculous. Johnson cut her teeth on the alt-drag and cabaret scenes of East London, where her unique blend of camp laughs and bare-knuckle confessional earned her a reputation for being a risk-taking performer with a big heart and an even bigger mouth. Since then, she has gone on to write, direct and star in genre-busting, critically acclaimed theatrical productions including: The Queen’s Head (Selfridges Theatre, 2017), How to Catch a Krampus (Pleasance London, 2018), Escape from Planet Trash (Pleasance London, 2019) and Ginger Johnson’s Happy Place (Southbank Centre and Pleasance Edinburgh, 2019).