AdultFestive 19/20LondonReview

Escape From Planet Trash – Pleasance Theatre, London

Writer/Director: Ginger Johnson

Reviewer: Karl O’Doherty

The slightly ramshackle style of sci-fi stories with silver costumes, shaky sets, ridiculous monsters and strangely sexy encounters has a very specific appeal.

Ignoring the genre’s limits completely, Ginger Johnson and the rest of her (inter)stellar cast have worked a little Christmas magic in generating a screamingly funny show that presents this sci-fi weirdness in its most enjoyable form. Subtle as a slap, the show is both bawdy and benign, garrulous and gentle, filthy and quite romantic.

In the year 2000, a space ship set out from earth in search of a new home for humans after we had all but destroyed this one. Passing near the part of space where planets come to die, 50 years later, the crew are surprised to notice signs of life on a planet that seems completely covered in trash. Crash landing, they find Ginger Johnson and her son living happily in the dump, unaware of the impending mutant turkey uprising led by a giant bird desperate for revenge for the generations of his ancestors who went to their graves on a bed of roast potatoes. Will they repair their ship and escape? Will they rescue their captured comrade from the turkeys’ lair? Will the alien from Planet Gooch add another set of genitals to their collection?

It’s a completely ridiculous show, pretty much exactly what a grown-up christmas panto should be. The characters created here are lovely, especially Ginger Johnson as the Geordie mother in the trash pile, and as a result the love story between the boy and the alien is as sweet as anything else you’re likely to see. This sentimentality is balanced by scenes where they cheer up a sentient piece of shit who didn’t realise what he was, and some fairly graphic jokes with poppers.

Under the musical direction of Sarah Bodalbhai and sound designer Alicia Jane Turner (both playing live as well) the sound of this show is actually what makes it, along with Ginger’s set design. The songs are a joy – whether it’s a version of Nightmare Before Christmas’ song What’s This performed by a 28yr old trash dweller who’s never heard of the holiday, or a take on the Rolling Stones’ Paint it Black sung by a murderous turkey army.

Looking a little like Ben Stiller’s Simple Jack from Tropic Thunder, David Cumming as the son is a very sweet lad. Mairi Houston as the ship captain is exactly what you want from a classic sci-fi heroine and as the strange alien genital collector scientist, Private P. P. Parts, Mahatma Khandi is hilarious.

Perhaps there’s a bigger message here about the environment and sustainability, perhaps there’s something about family and friends and love. If you want to see it there, you’ll find it. Johnson has written a romp that will give a belly laugh, but done it with a wit and intelligence that ensures it can stand up to much deeper thinking. It’s a kitsch, camp, drag panto – it’s great.

Runs until 22 December 2019 | Image: Ali Wright

 

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