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DENIM: The Reunion Tour Review

Billie Manning

A girl band of five, each glamorous member making up a perfect pastiche of one stereotype. Perfectly manicured outfits adhering to a theme while expressing that individual’s characteristics. Incredible, soaring five-part harmonies. A world tour, a lengthy hiatus, finally, a reunion. Of course it isn’t the Spice Girls: their harmonies were never that good.

It’s Denim, the girl band whose show’s conceit is that they’re a world-dominating girl group. The group is comprised of Glamrou La Denim, Crystal Vaginova, Electra Cute, Shirley Du Naughty and Aphrodite Greene, are known for infusing pop music with LGBT politics, and in a great example of fake it ‘til you make it, are starting to actually take over the world. Their drag show for kids won an award at the Edinburgh Fringe; they’re developing a television series; member Tom Rasmussen is about to publish a book, Diary of a Drag Queen.
 
Image: DENIM

In their new show at Soho Theatre, Denim: The Reunion Tour, we see the group reunite after a lengthy absence. The format is of big singing numbers interspersed with individual appearances made by each queen featuring some comedic routines and a song, frilled with a duet here and there. It’s during the individual skits that we get to know the characters’ journeys. Much has changed since their last tours: Aphrodite’s (Charlie Parham) eight strapping sons are all grown up (none of are them talking to her, though) and Elektra (Guy Woolf) has dedicated her life to such deserving causes as mongoose shelters.
 
We are taken on a slightly surreal comedic journey, from Glamrou’s provocative but intensely self-examining routine on an on-off relationship with the Muslim faith to a cat-pun-riddled book reading from Crystal and Aphrodite. Most of the stronger patter is very self-reflexive and touches on serious subjects with a healthy amount of ridiculousness. Though it takes the Fab Five a while to settle into the routine, and the more esoteric sections are less strong, being inducted into Shirley’s shampoo cult is still hilarious and the atmosphere only gets better. The singing is impeccable, with excellent arrangement and song choices ranging from Beyoncé to a Motown medley which stay fun without straying into queerché (that's queer cliché to you). The group numbers are the most sonically pleasing of the bunch, but Tom Rasmussen is a stand-out star vocally, and their empowering performance, examining body positivity, is a great choice of ending.

Image: Ellen Pearson
 
The mood is raucous by the end: two girls in front of me yell incomprehensibly, clenching and unclenching their raised hands in wild joy. Admittedly, I’m fairly sure they were on ecstasy (an odd choice for a Thursday night at Soho Theatre, you might think, and you’d be right) but even sober as I was, I felt them, honey. I personally do a lot of wiggling, clapping and whooping from my seat, having imbibed but a sole gin and tonic. The majority of the audience follow suit, and I have every reason to believe you will too.

DENIM: The Reunion Tour, until 1 December at Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London, W1D 3NE

Check out our interview with Tom Rasmussen A.K.A Crystal Vaginova here!

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