For some people Christmas time is the best time of the year, but drag performance legend David Hoyle has, of course, seen through the sanctimonious facade of our consumer culture and sets out to show his audience the dark side of Christmas. At the Soho Theatre.
For some people Christmas time is the best time of the year. It’s all so very special: candles and glittery lights everywhere, the smell of mulled wine at the markets and lovingly picking presents for the special people in your life. Drag performance legend David Hoyle has, of course, seen through the sanctimonious facade of our consumer culture and, with a song on his lips and red baubles dangling from his hips, he sets out to show his audience the dark side of Christmas.
But he is no ordinary Scrooge, as together with musician Richard Thomas he merrily flips off various shades of heteronormative hypocrisy to make people aware that society usually demands of them to be a cruel and insensitive “mix between a moron and robot” to succeed.
The show starts with a weird, inclusive song proclaiming that “We’re All In This Together”, and I wondered if I’ve accidentally stepped into a special Soho High School Musical adaptation but I need not have worried too long. Gays in the military, male sexual domination, religion – everything gets a quick once over, if you catch my drift.
The focus of the show is clearly on Hoyle, with no set on the stage and only a macabre Christmas tree to set the mood for the evening. Richard Thomas, who is the stooge behind the piano, comes across a bit laboured at times when he gives the cues to prompt the next song-clad rant. But he seems to be enjoying himself watching Hoyle being cynical while belting out lyrics that make the audience gasp. The songs are funny but more than just a little caustic. To say that this show is not really suited for the light-hearted would be like saying that heroin is not quite suited to cure sleeplessness. But better leave the absurd similes to Hoyle, who, for example, thinks you’d be “Better Off Dead” if you’ve never heard of German revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg.
And here is the surprising thing about the evening: although the set-up could very easily just have been a guy in women’s clothes ranting about Christmas and trying to earn some cheap laughs, Hoyle and Thomas dig deeper and only make it look like a cheap laugh. It’s a simple dramatic strategy, using contrasts not to shock, but to point out what is actually shocking in society. Ergo, the song about suicide clearly needed to be spiced up with a tap dance routine.
Sadly, most of the songs are a slightly forgettable, and I must admit that I expected a bit more finesse from Thomas, who in the past wrote the music to Jerry Springer – The Opera. But all in all it’s fun to see a show in which, for once, one does not care the slightest bit about political correctness and has cocky audience interaction.
This cabaret show does a good job with taking its audience on a slow descent into hell. And did I mention that it’s not for the easily offended? Although, that being said, mentions of bestiality and necrophilia should not stop you if you like your entertainment clever, queer and thought-provoking.