Touring – reviewed at the Leicester Square Theatre, London
The best cabaret shows always find the sweet spot between concert and confessional and in The Ginger Snapped, Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales manage to do just that. As a promised show disintegrates into a pseudo-therapy session, the pair delves into the murky waters of fame and fabulousness to reveal some of the toll it can take on one’s mental health.
Winner of season five of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Monsoon’s strengths are immediately apparent with the opening number which encapsulates everything about the kind of performer she is. Bantering with the audience, cracking jokes, working in all kinds of interplay with accompanist Scales and delivering some straight-up powerhouse vocals, there’s no mistaking this is the real deal.
But even the most polished of images can conceal damaged depths and though there’s much, much comic business here, there’s something entirely serious at the root of this show. Probing into notions of self-worth, Monsoon speaks so eloquently about the weariness that can come from even just the daily existence of being gender non-conforming in a society determined to point out difference. And she’s wonderfully clear-eyed and far from self-pitying about it – she’s preaching to the choir here but she clearly knows the power of espousing queer solidarity and it engenders an extraordinary moment.
Crucially, The Ginger Snapped is also a very funny show. Any number of Drag Race gags and jokes about British TV, how to pronounce chorizo and a Lazy Susan bit sit alongside a vibrant stage presence that often spills out into the audience (avoid the front rows if you’re shy…). And in their Visage-baiting green costumes, Monsoon and Scales make a dynamic duo, sliding gracefully between a wide diversity of musical influences in their suite of pop-friendly songs (the drag queen-referencing ‘Friends’ is a proper bop). Indeed, the highly personable Scales makes the most of his opportunities to shine, no mean feat against the force of personality across the stage! Great fun all around.