Theatre Review: How to Catch a Krampus, Pleasance Theatre ‘Fabulous Festive Cabaret’

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If you do know Sink the Pink – the LGBTQ+ cabaret collective who have taken the fringes by storm – chances are you already have tickets to this, and lucky you too for How to Catch a Krampus is a bawdy blend of riotous and irreverent cabaret, satirical Christmas cheer and some pretty magical moments. And if you don’t know Sink the Pink, well…. Let this be your initiation.

For this show marks the collective’s first ever theatre residency and, my, they have done themselves bloody proud as this is a Christmas show like none other you will see this season. And one to lift and make merry even the most tired and fatigued souls. Which is just what they did to me. I turned up, shattered and overworked; I left with music and laughter ringing in my ears. It’s a wonder.

But, oh, this is a dark wonder, for sure, as Sink the Pink have anchored their show firmly in the bohemian demi-monde of turn-of-the-century England. Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd, and other menaces lurk in the shadows of the cobbled streets outside, whilst the working class entertain themselves in the vibrant music halls that set the stage for this spectacle, full of lights, music and irreverence.

Enter the Krampus, the anti-St. Nicholas Christmas legend of a half-man, half-goat creature that stalked the streets punishing children who misbehaved. Only in this show, it is a very dangerous Krampus indeed stalking the streets – one that is kidnapping children. Hence, our plot where a woman calls on a medium, played by Ginger Johnson (the heartbeat of this production), to help her catch the Krampus who has kidnapped her child.

Not that the plot is really the point, of course. For in this feisty and fabulous burlesque, its purpose is to simply provide the framework for the revisited music hall where the collective floods the stage with their glorious array of jokes, farce and musical numbers.

The blend of original songs and covers is on the money – Masochism Tango is an original work that you will be humming for days, and it sits perfectly alongside exquisitely executed covers including Rihanna, Wham!, and a version of the Twelve Days of Christmas that brought the whole audience to their feet.

But Sink the Pink have also mastered the art of satire, of the skill of skewering observations of contemporary society, and their nod to Morris dancing, for example, is deceptive in its simplicity for this is also a withering observation on the narrow-mindedness of Middle England that curses much of our political and cultural scene today.

But, whichever way you cut it, this show is tremendous. For the collective’s first big outing, they have done themselves justifiably proud and I can only hope it brings a wider audience to their work. As for me, I sit here wondering if I can squeeze in a second visit for though this production may seem dark, my lord, is it funny. And fabulous. And – whisper it quietly – fantastically festive.

Pleasance Theatre, London, to December 23, 2018.
Tickets from £22.
All production images by Ali Wright.

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