TOGETHER AGAIN, AGAIN!
_REVIEW. it’s about _THEATRE. words _KYLE PEDLEY.
at _THE ALEXANDRA. tickets _OFFICIAL SITE. booking until _11th JUN.
images © Soho Elsewhere.
“Maybe… maybe this show doesn’t need a plot!” RuPaul’s Drag Race legend Jinkx Monsoon wryly exclaims towards the latter end of Together Again, Again! “This is our only marketable skill!”, follows shortly after, this time in unison with long-time collaborator, Major Scales, with whom Monsoon, real name Jerick Hoffer, shares the stage for this, their fifth UK touring cabaret production.
Self-deprecation is the order of the day here, then, and it rings true throughout Again!’s inspiredly bonkers 90-minute whirlwind of musical and comedic mayhem.
The year is 2065. The world has long since been conquered by reptilian overlords (who cross-bred, naturally, with the Kardashians). The sun has long since exploded. Drag Race has celebrated its 50th anniversary, and the Queer Eye cast have since amalgamated into one singular, all-seeing consciousness.
As per the duo’s previous ventures, such as The Ginger Snapped and The Vaudevillians, the (self-mocked) narrative stylings of Together Again, Again! are little more than a loose framework upon which to hang Monsoon and Scale’s trademark cabaret hijinks (hi-jinkx?). From the moment Scales hobbles out on stage as an aged take on his alter-ego, followed soon after by Monsoon shuffling out in the vein of a nigh-decrepit Gloria Swanson (set to a deliciously dry riff on Sunset Boulevard’s ‘The Greatest Star’, no less), it’s clear that any initial concerns set by a pulpy sci-fi opening video are assuaged pretty much immediately.
This show, after all, doesn’t need a plot.
That’s not to undersell some of the deceptively clever writing at play, though. The handful of original songs take aim at – or downright parody – the likes of Lloyd-webber, Sondheim and even Bond staples. Britishness – and indeed the British as a whole – frequently get sent up (a swipe at Come Dine With Me being particularly glorious). Parallels between the ‘collective trauma’ of alien invasion offer obvious echoes to COVID and the pandemic. Climate change gets a passing nod, with half of the UK of 2065 underwater. Even JK Rowling’s recent social media faux pas gets a scathing (see: well-deserved) strike.
But Monsoon and Scales aren’t here to preach or pontificate. The real raison d’être of Again! is to make an audience laugh, and it’s here where it succeeds most rousingly. It is tirelessly, relentlessly funny, both in its written, prepped material, as well as the masterful and effortless fashion in which Monsoon in particular commands the stage, ad-libs and rapid-fire jostles with their audience.
“…tirelessly, relentlessly funny, both in its written, prepped material, as well as the masterful and fashion in which Monsoon in particular commands the stage, ad-libs and rapid-fire jostles with their audience.”
The gloriously over-the-top, idiosyncratic relish of their dialled-up, almost vampiric elder incarnation is an absolute joy to watch throughout, and will have you giggling away even in the quieter beats and moments. Hoffer/Monsoon is a consummate pro, and this is absolutely the apex of their wheelhouse; belting big numbers and chewing up the stage with gusto.
Scales gets the less overtly showy, but equally important, role of the duo, and it’s his nervy, likeable energy opposite his at-times almost monstrous co-star, that help ground the show and offer some light to its sizzling, raucous shade. Both sing the everything out of their numbers, big and small, too.
Check out our recent TWE – Live with Jinkx and Major, where we discuss Together Again, Again!, the duo’s collaborative history and much more.
As mentioned, the duo are more than comfortable making themselves and their personas the butt of much of the humour, but few are safe from the sight of their scopes. Fellow Drag Race alumni face the duo’s witty wrath, with everything from All Stars 2 winner Alaska being outed as an actual extraterrestrial (devouring judge Michelle Visage in the process) to Trixie Mattel opening a hotel on the moon, and even a celebratory acknowledgement of fan favourite Shangela finally being on time to a gig …some five decades after her career began.
By the time ‘Jinkx’ and ‘Major’ are prancing along to a revisited version of Marc Shaiman’s ‘Timeless to Me’ (if they were younger, the choreography would be lazy, you know) it’s hard not to wish for Together to carry on again, again! But in truth, at 90 minutes (with no interval), it is a perfectly paced, lean, laugh-out loud corker of cabaret campness, pulled off by two masters of their craft at the top of their game.
Their best outing yet – in and of itself high praise – this may be their only marketable skill, but, by the grace of our future reptilian overlords, let’s pray it isn’t forty-three years before we actually see them again.
A zany, infectious and irrepressible cream of the high-concept cabaret crop.
An utterly bonkers, relentlessly funny slice of pure high-concept cabaret excellence. Scales & Monsoon shine in roles they were born to age disgracefully into.