A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, four former students of the University of Kent, Johanna Allitt, Simon Curtis, Mike Fidler and Charlotte Mann, frustrated that they couldn’t put on their chosen show at the Edinburgh Fringe decided to write their own piece instead. What came out of their minds was so amazing that it has been produced and performed throughout the universe and now the stuff of legends that is Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens has landed for a limited time at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington.
Entering Saucy Jack’s, a run-down cabaret bar on the planet Frotage III, the audience are greeted by the wonderful staff of the bar – young, attractive Mitch Maypole (Kristopher Bosch) a bartender with a heart of gold and a buried secret, Sammy Sax (Ashton Charge) a saxophone player with his eyes firmly set on being a headliner and the vivacious Booby Chevalle (Caspar Cordwell James) a friendly young cocktail waitress with a dream. Once the audience, including bar regular (and narrator) Dr Willy Von Whackoff (Tom Whalley) are fed, watered and settled down, the show starts. Master of ceremonies and owner of the club, Jack (Hugh Stubbins) introduces us to the first act of the night. A lovely chanteuse by the name of Vulva Savannah who takes this opportunity to tell everyone that tonight is her last night at Saucy Jack’s before she leaves to go onto an intergalactic reality TV show.
Later that night, Vulva is discovered dead, another victim of the notorious Sling Back Killer, a serial killer who has been haunting Frotage III for a while. The staff are upset at yet another murder but they are distracted by the arrival of Chesty Prospects (Sophie Cordwell James) a plastic and rubber smuggler looking for a place to call home. Hot on the heels of Chesty’s arrival Saucy Jack’s has more visitors in the shape of the Space Vixens female law enforcers whose mission is to fight crime and liberate the universe harnessing the Power of Disco. The Vixens, Bunny Lingus (Zoe Nicholls) and Anna Labia (Lorna Hall), under their leader, Jubilee Climax Jamie Birkett), are here to investigate the Sling Back Murders and bring the killer to justice, Space Vixen style.
Where to start with reviewing this show? I could start with the obvious, it’s awesome!
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The evening starts from the moment the doors open, when the staff of Saucy Jack’s wander around the audience, interacting with them, giving out badges and generally getting the atmosphere to a high level that is right for the start of the main story. Director Michael Fidler has done a fantastic job in turning the limited Kings Head performing space into a workable and believable off-world cabaret bar. The audience is sat either side of the performing area with the two ends being Saucy Jack’s bar and stage respectively. This means that there is always something for the audience to see and also enables the separation of the nine actors ensuring that they don’t fall over either themselves or the audience members sat at tables in the cabaret area. Michael has used every inch of the space very effectively both physically and by the use of some really excellent lighting changes by Lighting Designer William Frost, which make the area look bigger than it is and has paced the show beautifully so that the audience can really appreciate every nuance of the tale and also get a chance to have a good old fashioned belly laugh without missing anything as the show moves on. Mary Jones costumes, particularly for the Space Vixens, are literally out of this world and reflect all of the characters personalities perfectly.
And what a cast. From the moment he appeared on stage, Hugh Stubbins was perfect as Jack, the owner of the club. He was the perfect blend of sycophantic host to the audience and sneering arch manipulator/controller with his workers and performers. He really came into his own when the Space Vixens arrived as he tried to ingratiate himself with Jamie Birkett’s Jubilee. Jamie was the perfect partner for Hugh. She played Jubilee perfectly from her first entrance as the incredibly strong and powerful leader of the Space Vixens through to her final quite emotional scene. Full credit to everyone else as well, particularly the staff and patron of Saucy Jack’s who were on stage pretty much all the time and must have amazed quite a few people with their energy as they danced, sang ,acted and interacted with the audience throughout. My own personal favourite piece of audience interaction involved the very handsome and flexible Kristopher Bosch whose Mitch Maypole made an old man very happy in the second act – must remember to get the same seat next time I see this. I would also like to give a shout-out to Sophie Cordwell James who did something I have never seen before in a show and did it superbly without breaking character once, a truly amazing piece of acting there.
To sum up then, Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is a perfect example of its genre of musical. It is high camp, with a capital H and C and really engages with its audience from the get go. This isn’t a deep show with major messages for humanity, this show is simply about providing superb entertainment and pure escapism. This is a show that grabs its audience and holds onto them for dear life right until the final moment when, reluctantly they have to leave the theatre and go back to reality. It lifts the heart and at the end sends you out humming the tunes and, certainly in my case, remembering that everything in the universe can be solved and sorted out with the power of disco.
Review by Terry Eastham
In a seedy cabaret bar on the dark side of a distant planet, artistes are being picked off by a serial killer with a penchant for sequins… SaucyJack and the Space Vixens is a truly immersive theatrical experience. The audience are the patrons of Saucy Jack’s bar, relaxing at tables, drinking and dancing while the show explodes around them.
Having delighted audiences around the world for over 20 years, including three West End runs, this award-winning musical is back in the capital with a transfer of its exuberant cyberpunk production fresh from the Edinburgh Festival. Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens lands at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington for four weeks of glitter-fueled fun from April 26th. Dust off your glitterboots, set your disco beams to stunning and join in with this all singing, all dancing, disco spectacular.
Hannah Johnson Productions presents:
SAUCY JACK AND THE SPACE VIXENS
Book and Lyrics by Charlotte Mann and Michael Fidler
Music by Jonathan Croose and Robin Forrest
Based on original ideas by Johanna Allitt, Simon Curtis, Charlotte Mann and Michael Fidler
Booking to 21st May 2016
Book tickets at http://www.kingsheadtheatre.com/