Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens continues at the Leicester Square Theatre Lounge, London until 15 September.
There’s something about Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens which just begs to be enjoyed as the second show of a rather well-lubricated evening. Perhaps this is why the advertised 7.30pm start time is actually the beginning of a short 15-minute warm up by Lauren Osborn, whose cabaret rock numbers do their best to engage the audience nearly as much as the bar at the unexpected first interval does.
The full show itself, which kicks off properly at 8pm, is set in Saucy Jack’s, a seedy disco bar in the futuristic planet of Frottage III – a world where the drinks may come in doubles, but the entendres are served strictly in singles. Staff members are being picked off one by one by a serial killer whose weapon of choice is a stiletto slingback shoe. But this is no murder mystery, no ‘The Mirrorball Crack’d’ – the killer couldn’t be more obvious if he were twirling a moustache. And this is a show so unsubtle that it’s almost a surprise that he doesn’t.
The characters are almost uniformly one-dimensional, drawn in crude, glitter-speckled strokes, a comic strip writ large. But all the actors know exactly what it is, ensure their performances are as broad as the characters are shallow, and encourage the audience to buy into just how ridiculous – and fun – the show can be.
And that allows several moments of genuine sweetness to creep in. David Malcolm’s downtrodden drag waitress Booby Shevalle is gently endearing, and while the romance between idealistic saxophonist Sammy (Nigel Thomas) and Anna Labia (Kate Malyon) is hardly original, it is played with such bashful affection that it is impossible to remain unmoved. While the brief relationship between Space Vixen Bunny Lingus (Leanne Jones) and buxom smuggler Chesty Prospects (Lisa Gorgin) is less successful storywise, it does at least pair the show’s two most impressive vocalists together.
And the vocals are generally strong all round, although in the cramped confines of the Leicester Square’s basement space, the pre-recorded backing frequently drowns out some of the performers whose belt cannot quite compete. The use of two stick mics helps in places, but in large ensemble numbers it can be a struggle to make out some of the vocals. While there’s nothing too earth-shatteringly hilarious in the lyrics, even the weakest of punchlines needs to be heard to achieve its effect.
More successful than the sound quality are the costumes – somewhat reminiscent of Hot Gossip as they sang of losing hearts to their starship trooper – and Stuart Saint’s direction and choreography, which use every corner of the cramped Leicester Square basement. And while the musical really only has two stand-out memorable numbers in ‘Glitterboots’ and the anthemic ‘All I Need is Disco’, this spirited cast do their level best to make sure this quirky, trashy cabaret musical is the very best that it can be.