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SAUCY JACK AND THE SPACE VIXENS – Just the Tonic at the Caves, Edinburgh.

saucy jacks edIn the seedy cabaret club Saucy Jack’s, on the planet Frottage III, all is not well. Danger lurks in every corner as the cabaret acts are being picked off one by one by the relentless sling back killer, plunging a murderous heel deep into the victims’ chest!

Back in Edinburgh, after it’s birth in 1995, is the camp musical love-child of The Rocky Horror Show and Return To The Forbidden Planet. Written originally by students from the University of Kent as an alternative option after their first choice musical fell through, Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens has become a fast growing cult musical with productions happening all over the western world. After a recent, rather forgettable production off London’s West End, Michel Fidler (original director) takes back the reigns and hits Just The Tonic at the Caves with a glittery bang.

Entering the perfect underground venue, you are instantly transported to an intergalactic cabaret bar with Mary Jones’ design using the space to its full potential allowing the bar to be both welcoming and slightly off-kilter.

Once the actual show kicks off the magic really begins. The bar is populated by an eclectic mix of characters lead by the comical whimsy of Robert McNeilly’s Dr Von Whackoff, an eccentric psychoanalyst with a penchant for younger men and fetish-wear. The titular role of Jack is played by Ralph Bogard (returning to the role after his 2013 run at London’s Leicester Square Theatre) who owns the space with fantastic presence backed up with a powerful set of lungs, highlighted in the incredibly impressive end of act one’s Tortured Plaything. The story, believe it or not there is one, really takes off with the arrival of the Space Vixens, an intergalactic troop of crime fighters, made up of Jubilee Climax (Jamie Birkett, also returning to the role from the same 2013 production), Anna Labia (Lorna Clare Hall) and Bunny Lingus (Zoe Nicholls) who, if crossed, will “castrate you by the power of disco”.

One of the highlights of the evening is the ingenious use of the interval, cashing in on the corpse of Chesty Prospects to encourage the audience to take selfies with a “#SpaceVixens” sign around the deceased’s neck. Lead by the naturally charming and likable Ashton Charge as Sammy Sax.

The show itself strives to pay homage to the great B-Movies of the 50s and 60s such as Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space, and in turn cult musicals like Return to the Forbidden Planet and The Rocky Horror Show, and with a little sprinkle of British innuendo Charlotte Mann’s book, and Jonathan Croose and Robin Forrest’s catchy disco music, really creates a memorable and enjoyable night out.

The stand out song of the evening is ‘Glitter Boots Saved My Life’ which is perhaps the only song that for my money could easily dominate a West End Stage and is clearly a nod, with its simple and infectious dance moves, to Richard O’Brian’s ‘Time Warp’ which became an international success back in the 80s.

The production, played in thrust allows you as the audience to feel truly immersed in the world of Saucy Jack but the vast length of the space does mean that a lot of turning around for long periods of time leaves you with a little bit of Wimbledon-esque neck ache, but that is just pedantic nitpicking. So before it’s too late, grab a cocktail, stick on your highest platform shoes and just remember, “whatever your funk, we are all Space Vixens”.

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Reviewed  03/08/14

By Dan Phillips

31st July – 24th August 2014
Just The Tonic at the Caves, Venue 88, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, EH1.

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