Review by Daz Gale
Two RuPaul’s Drag Race legends have returned to bring together their annual Holiday show out for another spin. Now in its 5th year, a lot has changed since their show together in London last year with Jinkx crowned the Queen of Queens in this years brilliant All Stars All Winners season. This is still very much a joint effort though with this double header of a show seeing both legends get equal billing. But was the latest instalment of their holiday show another winner?
For those who are unfamiliar, both Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme came to prominence on RuPaul’s Drag Race in the fifth and sixth seasons of the show respectively. Both have since returned for various All Stars seasons where BenDeLaCreme memorably eliminated herself with a lipstick (if you don’t get the reference, just go with it) and, as previously mentioned, Jinkx won this years All Winners season.
Best friends on and off stage, The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show began life with a tour in 2018 and has since become an annual tradition with a new holiday show from the pair in 2019 and 2021 (For 2020 it has to be a special made for screen for obvious reasons). Their fifth outing kicked off a huge world tour this week with a sold out date at the iconic London Palladium.
The first thing to note about this years Holiday Show is how much slicker and more polished it is than last years (admittedly fantastic) production. This is to be expected as the pairs popularity grows and they become more accustomed to what works and what doesn’t in their shows. It may be strange to say I missed a bit of the chaos from last years show, but as this was a first night, there were still a few mishaps that only added to the shows charm.
The plot (and I use that term loosely) of this show is that the world has gone to Hell and Jinkx and DeLa must go back in time to determine what they could have possibly done to cause all of this as they enter a sort of Multiverse (known here as the Humbugverse) where they are also visited by three ghosts from the past, present and the future. Sound familiar? If the plot of a panto is secondary to the fun factor, the same rule applies here with this basic premise existing to allow Jinkx and DeLa the opportunity to poke fun at Christmas traditions.
One highlight of the show sees the pair visit each decade from the 1960s to the 1990s. This leads to brilliant performances both solo and together as they comment on the similarities of songs (a brilliant recurring joke of the 1981 song ‘Genius Of Love’ is used to fantastic effect), perform a stand up routine (with several American references that may have gone over the heads of this British audience) and showed off a variety of outfits in keeping with the decade. This whizz through the decades was possibly the most joyous segment of the show and took up the majority of the first act.
The second act brings things into a very different present where nothing is new anymore and the most popular song is ‘Running Up That Hill’. Maybe not THAT different then. The trilogy of ghosts (sorry, spirits) is completed by a comedic trip to the future before everything is tied nicely together with a bow for a feelgood finale.
Both Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme are remarkable talents in their own right. I have been to both of their own shows this year and they really do shine on that stage. However, when they come together real magic fills the air. The authentic love they have for each other resonates off the stage and makes it easier to fall in love with the pair yourself. A wonderful double act in itself, their contrasting personalities aren’t played out as extremely as they were in last years holiday show, but there is still plenty of “odd couple” material on hand here, though this now has the added level of them being in it together as a pair.
A Holiday show would be nothing without musical numbers and this production has no shortage of them. The opening number sets up their differing views on what a holiday show should be, while ‘I Will Survive’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ are among the classic numbers parodied with new hilarious and festive lyrics. A version of ‘Here Comes The Hotstepper’ changed to make it all about Jewish traditions is one of the most absurdly bizarre things I have ever seen, but for that I think I loved it. The show climaxes with the genuinely beautiful number ‘Looking At The Lights’ revisited from last years show with the song now available to stream, which shows the pair don’t always need to be funny to be captivating to watch.
Written by BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon, the whole affair is wickedly funny, with some brilliant one liners and a comradery which sees them playing off each other wonderfully. Perhaps, the show is at its funniest when it goes off script though with the spontaneity adding an extra factor of hilarity to it, be it Jinkx struggling to get through a line, BenDeLaCreme struggling to throw a pop or the genius response of “This is a scripted show, none of you have lines” to a heckler in the audience. While the script in itself is cleverly written and full of humour, it’s seeing the two caught off guard that makes you truly appreciate how talented they both are.
The fact the show is produced and directed by BenDeLaCreme and co-written and co-created by both her and Jinkx Monsoon is a testament to their phenomenal talents, and admirable proof of what can be done by a small and mighty team. These are two talents who deserve every bit of success they have had. The way this show continues to grow every year beyond their wildest dreams is completely deserved, given how much joy they are inflicting on their willing audiences around the world.
The show talks about what an awful year it has been (though admittedly SOME good stuff has happened) but it takes a show like this to make you sit back, escape the troubles of life and embrace the madness and hilarity of two Drag Queens at the top of their game. For that, the Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show was just what was on my list to Santa. A little bit naughty and a little bit nice, there really was no shortage of fun to be had in this fabulously festive slice of joy. Seeing this show has become a new favourite Christmas tradition – I can’t wait to see what they do next year.
The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show plays in Sheffield, Manchester and Brighton until November 20th before a sold out tour across North America until December 30th.
Full dates and tickets from https://www.jinkxanddela.com/
Stream ‘Looking At The Lights’ at https://jinkxdelaholiday.hearnow.com/
Photos by Curtis Brown