Writer and Performer: Len Blanco/ Helen White
Director: Freyja Winterson
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
Len Blanco, former member of 1990s boyband M4, is live at The Palladium, for one night only! He’s on the comeback tour. If the Backstreet Boys can do it, then so can Len. He’s still got the moves, he’s still got the voice, but, unfortunately, Firing Blancs, is not the show to highlight these talents.
Quiffed and moustachioed, Len Blanco is the alter ego of performer Helen White. The last few years have seen a resurgence in drag kings, and, indeed, in these post #MeToo days, it is the perfect time for masculinity to be examined and parodied. Len swaggers across the stage lip-synching to The Backstreet Boys, or singing his own hit song Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby. He also sends dick pics to his female fans.
But for the most part, Len is quite loveable, and White is a great performer. The main problem is the show is not very funny, and it suffers from being so tightly scripted: even the volunteers for the lip-synching competition are clearly plants. The sections about Len’s girlfriend watching at home on TV, or Charlotte Church being late for the concert are a little excruciating and would work better if there was more spontaneity to the proceedings.
Perhaps this is not the right time for Len to go solo as this wasn’t exactly a fun-packed hour. There’s a potential that this show could be edgier or more political, but at the moment it flounders in a no man’s land, neither out-and-out parody nor boyband tribute. Len has a good voice and the songs penned by White are catchy, but there are too few of them. With a better script and a stronger structure Firing Blancscould be a great success. At the moment the show lives up to its name.
After appearing in last year’s Altogether Now, the BBC’s new singing competition, Len has definitely attracted some more fans, and there were definitely fans in the late night audience at The VAULT. However, it’s doubtful, with this performance, whether Len made any new ones.
Runs until 1 March 2019 | Image: Contributed