Giselle Remix - Photo credit Ali Wright.

GISELLE: REMIX at The Pleasance, London | Review

As part of the pleasance’s Art Cabaret Drag season, they have transformed their main space into a Talk of the Town-style venue with tables surrounding a thrust stage. You can order food and drink to your table to enjoy alongside your show.

Giselle Remix - Photo credit Ali Wright.
Giselle Remix – Photo credit Ali Wright.

These three areas are my dream shows, I absolutely love a drag artist, a cabaret show and physical performance. Throw in some gender politics, the themes of sex and death and I’m there.

Giselle is a piece of performance art created by Jack Sears and Hannah Grennell. Sears portrays our protagonist, Giselle. Reading the press release for this show, the cast credentials and watching some of the content they had dropped onto social media, I was super excited to experience this production, however, I couldn’t have been more disappointed.

Although there were some amazing aspects of this production I felt like I wanted to leave halfway through and just felt that this was a vanity project.

To explain further and explore my disappointment. The production values for this show were high, the lighting, sound, costume design and the dancers were all top of their game. There were some fantastic juxtapositions including a young innocent Giselle caught between two sets of sound bites – one from the 90s rom coms including Never Been Kissed and Pretty Woman intersected with hard corn porn sounds.

There were some beautiful images, Giselle in a black latex Gimp style Nun’s outfit, complete with habit, stood next to a red velvet cape, a face covered except for bright red lips (Think Rocky Horror Picture Show or Beckett’s Not I). However, to get to this beautiful imagery we watched Sears lip-sync for a good few minutes with his face completely covered by the latex Habit.

I cannot and will not fault the dancers, the choreography was flawless, and the way they moved as a group and individuals was mesmerising. The change from sprite-like imps jumping and undulating across the stage to the darker world of domination and submission with bodies writhing and moving in unison across the stage to loud club music and pulsating beats.

The piece, in concept, is absolutely brilliant – there was a lot to deconstruct after the show, I talked with my plus-one for hours about the piece, but ultimately I can’t take myself away from bad and boring lip-synching and how being a drag performer relates to the world of chem sex. These two are not mutually exclusive and that is how the piece played out, to me.

However, saying this the show received huge applause and a standing ovation so who am I to judge what people like, maybe I was just the wrong audience. Maybe 20+ years of experiencing shows around gender politics, and sexual identity have desensitised me!

3 stars

Review by Faye Stoockley

Hot off its instant sell-out premiere at the Royal Opera House, GISELLE: REMIX and its anarchic, punk-reimagining of the classic ballet returns to subvert this timeless story of love, loss, revenge, redemption and forgiveness.

In this queer, lip-sync cabaret retelling, Giselle is a hopeless romantic, raised on a diet of Julia Roberts and Drew Barrymore 1990s rom-coms, who comes to realise that the real world of queer sex, hook-ups and heartbreak is a far cry from Hollywood’s happily-ever-after.

What follows is a journey through shame, assimilation, anger, acceptance and – finally – liberation and joy. All performed to a soundtrack of queer icons ranging from Judy to SOPHIE.

Jack Sears (@jackqueers)
Harri Eiffert (@harrijames_eiffert)
Elle Fierce (@ellellle)
Spike King (@spikeking)
Marie Astrid Mence (@marie_astrid_mence)

Created by Jack Sears and Hannah Grennell
Choreography by Hannah Grennell in collaboration with the Dance Troupe Cast
Produced by Molly McGeachin at The Project People
Executive Produced by Patrick Bone
Costume Design by Laura Rose Moran-Morris
Lighting Design By Lucy Adams
Consultant Set Design by Blythe Brett
Sound Design by Rhys Cook AKA Oberon White
Marketing Consultancy by Holly Adomah
PR by Kevin Wilson

GISELLE LATE produced by Patrick Bone
Photography by James Frederick Barrett

Patrick Bone, Molly McGeachin and The Pleasance present GISELLE: REMIX

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