The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special – Soho Theatre

Directed by BenDeLaCreme

Written by BenDeLaCreme & Jinkx Monsoon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Christmas comes once again. And again… and again… and, well, let’s just say it’s going to be a fruitful evening. Royalty of Drag, writer, director, and performer BenDeLaCreme and fellow writer and performer Jinkx Monsoon come together for the most sinfully unholy of festive celebrations. Jinkx, you see, has far better things (and people) to do over the holiday season, but be damned if DeLa is going to allow her friend to wallow in misery and ruin their festive spectacular. With dance routines, garlands, jokes, polar bears, and bottoms galore, there’s something for everyone in The Jinxk & DeLa Holiday Special – Hell, there’s even some festive Eggnog to wash everything down.

But what sort of Holiday Special wouldn’t have songs? A terrible one, that’s what. Luckily, the lyrics and musical arrangements of Keith Harrison with Major Scales dredge up the ghosts of Christmas past to adapt timeless (and cheap) tracks for a new audience. And while not every number lands the mark, some of the compositions become kitschy Christmas classics – in particular, Passive Aggressive Christmas and That Kind of Holiday Show.

Vying for the comedic triumphs of DeLa and Jinkx are Varla Jean Merman as the villainous Nanog, and, though he may simply be ‘The Naked Guy’, Jordan Iosua Taylor, who brings an enviable calmness and serenity to the heart of the production. Knotting together the broken strands of their friendship, The Naked Guy brings DeLa and Jinkx back together in reminding to accept the different ways to celebrate things and recognise the difficulties some have in the holiday season.

But sod the schmaltzy stuff – let’s get to the filth. True to expectations, the humour crashes into the realms of depravity, everyday sexual encounters, and puns galore with a musical rendition of A Gay in a Stranger. For seasoned veterans of Jinkx or DeLa, the production isn’t all that blue, but some newcomers or younger audiences may find it a tad more cringe-worthy if they’ve decided to bring the aunties to this holiday extravaganza. There might be a few blushed cheeks, but it’s Christmas – and the more colour, the better.

The pair’s writing finds balance, and the sexualised humour also makes way for gags on family, friendship, and the ever-present target of religion. Little, if any, of the writing feels forced, and much of the humour flows quite naturally, no doubt in part to the *ahem* seasoned expertise of Drag artists at the top of their game. The chemistry is authentic – you really feel the hate they feel for one another. DeLa brings the chirp and cheer of the holiday season while Jinkx brings the insipid agony of expectation.

Holiday specials have an uncanny ability to overstay their welcome, struggling to secure the required length while padding far too much girth into a section to stretch out the run time. Well, this isn’t an issue for DeLa and Jinkx, who somehow defy tradition and manipulate the show into the right level of festive cheer without becoming stagnant.

Make your Yuletide gay, make it cheap, make it lavish, make it quiet but after this year, make it however the hell you want to. The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special sinfully offers every bang for its buck, showcasing two of the industry’s most cherished performers decked out in celebratory visage. With a lot more heart, effort and capability than expected of Holiday specials, down the Eggnog, lock away the relatives and indulge in some lucid colours, tap sequences and festive libations.

Runs here until January 2021

Review published for The Reviews Hub

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