This long weekend seems a perfect time to reconnect yourself with the life, death and (possible) resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. And I don’t think anything quite screams the Easter message like Lucy McCormick and her two backing dancers (complete with cherubic wings) re-enacting Doubting Thomas’ debate with the Risen Christ via the medium of dance whilst mouthing the lyrics of Destiny’s Child breakthrough hit, No, No, No.
But seriously, if you’re sensitive to how Jesus’ life should be portrayed, I suggest you stay away from Soho Theatre like the proverbial Biblical plague because Lucy McCormick: Tripe Threat is a full-on neo-burlesque/punk/trash pop culture take on the most famous story ever told, which sees the story of the Gospels turned on its head, told through a feminist lens, embraced by queer culture, and mashed up to Bieber and Aguilera.
It’s outrageously offensive and wonderfully subversive, but be warned, this is a show that is pushing a lot of buttons very hard, and very deliberately. Yes, it’s vulgar and raunchy – if you’re not one for watching someone be fingered in every way conceivable in the same show then you might want to give this one a miss.
But there is a point here, and it is a very good one.
This is an attempt to humanise the Bible stories. To make it real. And we humans are passionate, sexual, guttural and vulgar. Sex wasn’t invented in the 1960s. Biblical figures aren’t dusty relics but the lives of real people who felt and feared the same as us. Perhaps they didn’t necessarily capture their emotions via Gaga lyrics but for all the entertainment on show, this is a show that packs an intellectual punch.
And a feminist one too. For as Lucy comes back to time and again, why are the women in the New Testament reduced to mother or whore? And that’s why Lucy has grabbed centre stage, taken the main characters for herself, and retells this story in the most human and humorous of ways.
It’s no surprise to see Ursula Martinez in the director’s chair – that woman remains one of the most accomplished performers I’ve ever seen with a pinpoint perfect sense of timing and delivery. And when performing, Ursula’s connection with the audience remained a constant and the space she left for a joke to land was always perfectly judged.
If I had a couple of constructive criticisms to make, it would be that Lucy still has scope to learn from her director on these points in a couple of places. Lucy’s singing and dancing is impressive – the musical numbers are full on – but a couple of times the character did slip during the high-energy pieces and that connection with the audience was temporarily lost.
Also, the night I went, a couple of the jokes possibly outstayed their welcome – being hammered home a bit too long – to the point where a few in the audience started showing signs of disinterest. But this aside, this isn’t a show you will forget, ever. Let alone in a hurry. Not even if you scrubbed your eyes with soap afterwards.
Lucy gives everything to her performance – it’s physical and viscerally emotive – but there’s a great sense of reclamation of the female voice and body in this. Terrific in its irreverence and utterly committed to its own cause, Triple Threat is a show to be reckoned with.
Soho Theatre, London, to April 22, 2017
Tickets from £12.