Posts Tagged ‘Snow White and the Seven Poofs’

Review – Snow White and the Seven Poofs – Simon Gross at the Karma Sanctum Hotel

December 20, 2017

It’s been some years since I last saw this adult version of the classic Snow White, in an evening that broke my brain so hard I actually went back a second time. In fact, this show is the reason why I am now a connoisseur of adult pantos. Yeah, sure, Above the Stag may have all of the hunky boys in theirs, but Simon Gross has the bitchy drag queens and the jokes that leave me crying, with bonus audience hassling and great music. By the end of the night EVERYBODY was dancing along, and it doesn’t get better than that at a panto.

The new venue left something to be desired – while the Karma Sanctum Hotel is a sweet little joint, £12 cocktails are OW when you’re a reviewer on a budget and the downstairs room where the show was held had a completely flat floor that meant sight lines were not the best. But I sat in the front row, so I didn’t care, and to be honest with a sold out house that was probably soused when they got in the door, I doubt most of the other customers cared that much either.

The costumes are cheap and the cast is quirky (although Vicki Vivacious is not just lively as Snow White but proves quick with insults and banter – two customers who popped to the loos during a scene were rewarded with her appearing from behind the curtains to render judgement on their “qualifications”), and there’s no doubt in my eyes people who are looking for a trad panto will find much to complain about. But what did I get for my £20? Great jokes from “Queen Showbiz” (Simon Gross as a very unattractive stepmother); truly funny dance numbers done by a talented cast (the YMCA one introducing the dwarves, including Sub, Dom, and Muscle Mary was right on the money); piles of improv (sometimes as people forgot their lines but whatevs); and GOOD music we were encouraged to sing and dance to.

YMCA as danced by Snow White’s Dwarves. Poofs.

And you know what? The audience was in to it. They were dancing, they were laughing at the jokes (even when they were being made fun of), they were clapping and roaring with laughter. Compared to the rather stiff show I saw at the Hackney last week, this was miles ahead if fun is what matters to you. It feels rough and sometimes tattered, but to me this has more of the true feeling of the British music hall tradition and the true sense of panto than any show with a million pounds to spend on costumes and top notch professionals combing through their scripts to make sure every little joke is guaranteed to offend nobody. I’m glad I went back and I’ll be looking for Gross’s panto next year; this is the perfect remedy for the Christmas blues. For me, it was the bubbles in my champagne – or, let’s be honest, cava, because we’re not that high class. Be sure to drink heavily before your arrival and DON’T sit in the front row.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, December 19th, 2017. It continues through January 7th. It’s apparently selling out so if you want to go get your tickets now, the venue is SMALL.)

Review – Snow White and the Seven Poofs – Green Carnation Cabaret

April 2, 2013

Easter is certainly not panto time, but with the downer of cancelling my holiday plans due to illness casting a gloom over everything, the idea of going to see a raunchy retake on a children’s classic seemed like just the thing to cheer me up. A posse of drag queens doing Snow White in a gay bar the day before Easter (and for £18.50 top price)? Sign me up!

I’m pleased to say that before the first act was over I’d 1) seen the crassest costume ever to “grace” a London stage (the prince’s, not Horrible Hilda’s, if you were wondering) 2) been amazed by the rudeness of the front row drunk girls (and the manly attempts of the cast to keep them in check) and 3) heard a song so shamefully inappropriate for children that it had somehow entirely failed to get a reworking in a single one of the standard pantos I’d seen during the Christmas season (“Whips and Chains,” which I’d actually never heard at all before thanks to quitting the gym a year back). Not a bad start, eh?

The story was, of course, fairly standard, but the subtext was front and center (the huntsman – Horrible Hilda, I mean – had an orgy with Snow White and two well-endowed squirrels rather than just leaving her to her doom) – and if we were short of subtext, then that meant it was probably time to pull a dildo from the box (AHEM the prop box!). There was also lots of profanity (the Magic Mirror’s greeting was “Fuck off, mirror,” which isn’t quite standard if you’re familiar with the tropes of panto) and general vulgarity. And just in case you thought you were safe, the cast came out and mocked you where you sat, one by one through about the fourth row (I got it before the show started, with some wrinkled geezer giving me shit for not knowing the dance to the Birdie Song).

Of course, it’s the drag queens that made this show fabulous, and who wouldn’t want not one but THREE egotistical, bitchy “dames” giving you all of the sassy ad-lib you could ever hope for. Well, actually, Snow White (Tanya Hyde, far more personable than the person they hired to do this role in Wimbledon) herself didn’t entirely go for it the way that the Evil Queen (“Mrs Moore”) and Horrible Hilda (Simon Gross) did (not that she didn’t offer to beat the drunk girls with her shoe), but two dames is more than most shows get, and Queenie and Hilda weren’t just over the top, they jumped the shark. Not only did we get double entendre, we got single entendre; and then of course there was Hilda’s quite literally minging costume not to mention the way Queenie felt herself up every time she got booed (another break from the usual panto tropes).

But you’re asking yourself, I’m sure, what about the dwarves? The whole key to Snow White (and only saving grace of the Wimbledon production) was the seven people of lesser stature they got to entertain us while Snowie was chirping about in the woods. And looking at this tiny cast, I was wondering: just where the heck were they going to find seven people period? As the various “poof” characters marched onto stage (including the confused Prince), we got up to six … and then, charging from the back of the house, the light board operator came on in full lumberjack regalia to round out the set with … a lesbian. The crew was basically like an expanded version of the Village People, with the addition of characters like “Subby” and “Fag Hag” – and rather than a cute little version of “Our House,” they did some kind of song that seemed like something from Benny Hill with absolutely filthy limericks. It was the total opposite of “normal” panto but then was as utterly, perfectly British as a raunchy seaside postcard … I was almost in tears.

While I missed the chances the show might have taken with political asides (like the deliciously topical Above the Stag’s “Get Aladdin”), the fun it did have with panto traditions (the visit of the Dick Whittington asking if anyone had seen a pussy was rich) and the genuine talent of the cast, both at singing (nice pipes, Snowy!) and at flinging the saucy ad libs made for a roaring night out. And me? I may have suggested that what the evil queen really needed was a serious makeover, but I was stone cold sober.

(This review is for a performance that was seen on March 30th, 2013. It continues through April 7th.)