Review: The Queen’s Head

It’s quite hard to describe exactly what The Queen’s Head – Sink The Pink’s 2017 foray into panto – is about. It’s not a conventional pantomime, yet all the ingredients are there: singing, dancing, elaborate costumes, festive cheer.

Of course, pantomime is perhaps the most traditional place to find drag: men dressed as women is acceptable family entertainment around Christmas. So how do Sink The Pink make theirs stand out?

The premise is simple but somewhat unusual: the annual turning on of the Queen’s Head’s Christmas lights, to be broadcast live on television. Ginger Johnson (as herself) is trying to make sure everything goes smoothly. Elvis is there (obviously) to help out; Michelle (Rodent Decay) – the punk who lives upstairs – is getting in the way, as is Ginger’s niece, Jessie (Mairi Houston). The reporter, Wendy Minger (Jonbenet Blonde) isn’t thrilled to be covering such a story and doesn’t attempt to hide her true feelings. What could possibly go wrong?

© Alberto Romano

It’s fun, funny and occasionally outrageous. There are jokes aplenty but also some genuine sentiment: in a short space of time, we grow to care about Ginger and her motley crew of misfits (including the wonderful Lavinia Co-Op as herself). Written and directed by Johnson, it’s an incredibly creative and well-polished show, despite a few missteps, missed cues and mic problems.

The songs are mostly sung live – including a lovely arrangement/mash-up of It Must Be Love and Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) – and the choreography is simple yet effective, especially in a little work-out number lead by Ms Minger. Johnson’s showcase piece – Nobody, from Betty Blue Eyes – is incredibly enjoyable and heartfelt.

All of the cast are fabulous and Johnson makes for an incredibly powerful leading lady, but special mentions have to go to Rodent Decay (whose facial expressions alone are award-worthy and disguise a rather gorgeous voice) and Jonbenet Blonde (whose dedication to the role of a drunken battle-axe blonde is phenomenal).

© Alberto Romano

The design is spot-on: the whole of Selfridge’s small theatre has been turned into an immersive theatrical experience, complete with an authentic pub sign out front and a bar at the rear. The costumes are particularly striking, from Ms Minger’s perfectly hideous green blazer and skirt combo to a pair of Pearly King/Queen outfits.

This is an incredibly enjoyable way to spend an evening. It’s camp, funny, sweet and – most importantly – Christmassy. Go and see it.

The Queen’s Head is on until 23 December at Selfridges. Tickets available from DICE.