Pros: Original, camp, LOL hilarious
Cons: Too short
I love going to the Soho Theatre. Not only is the beautiful venue in the heart of London’s bustling theatreland, but this theatre prides itself on taking risks with new works that entertain, inspire, challenge and move you. Every time I walk out of this theatre I’ve felt all of those emotions and my most recent outing to see Panti: High Heels In Low Places did not disappoint.
Gorgeous, sassy, fierce, camp and with an open heart, it’s not hard to see why Panti Bliss is hailed as Ireland’s high Queen and very own national treasure. High Heels in Low Places is her riotous and first ever one woman stand-up show which documents her life after, what she proudly calls, ‘Pantigate’. Panti landed herself in the middle of a media shit storm (her words) that rocked Ireland back in 2014. Soon after, she became a Youtube sensation when an impassioned speech she made about homophobia, described as “the most eloquent Irish speech” in 200 years by the Irish Times, went viral. It was broadcast around the world, debated in parliament and even remixed by the Pet Shop Boys, sparking a powerful conversation about equality. I actually remember seeing this speech and getting goosebumps at the time, so seeing the woman whose words and spirit had captured not only mine, but the world’s attention, was truly inspiring.
High Heels In Low Spaces is truly hysterical and Panti is a natural on the stage. As soon as she stepped out, looking sensational in a tight green dress (that she constantly reminded us she looked sensational in), Panti held us captivated. Much like fans at a Cher concert wondering how it all stays together. Ordinarily when you go see drag there’s a lot of lip-syncing for their lives, crass jokes and over the top frocks. But Panti’s show mechanic was more heartfelt and, at times, serious with not a camp lip-sync in sight. Through delicious personal stories that are just too good and wicked to not be true, Panti opened her heart like legs at a one direction concert (again her words). I found this mixture of sheer hilarity and poignancy a joy to watch.
There is only one key musical moment in the show which comes out of nowhere, much like a Madonna hit single in the 10’s, and it is hysterical. On the topic of the Queen, Panti not Madonna, she lets us in on her secret brush with the infamous bitch pop star and the genuine story is the stuff of camp novellas or indie short films. I won’t spoil it for you, but trust me it’s a good one and I am still chuckling away as I write this. ‘Pantigate’ clearly catapulted this little Irish lass just trying to get by to mega stardom and global domination. I can’t remember the last time I saw a show where the audience was so unified in loud choruses of laughter and shock. A good drag show always has some audience heckling and Miss Panti Bliss is an expert with an acid tongue that stops you in your tracks with your bad shoes. My husband and I were recipients of said heckling mid show which, although awkward at the time, was great fun and rib-tickling funny. Every moment from the beginning of the show up until she turned the house lights up and walked around chatting with us all, were a delight and she is just enchanting.
Panti is Ireland’s foremost ‘gender discombobulist’ with a string of hit shows, and hunky men behind her. I urge you to get up, stand up, be proud of who you are and go see this radiant woman for yourself.
I’m already looking at flights to Dublin so we can go visit Pantibar…oh yes. Clicks fingers. Sashays away.
Written and performed by: Panti Bliss
Director: Phillip McMahon
Producer: Jennifer Jenning
Booking Until: 2 May 2015
Booking Information: http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/panti-high-heels-in-low-places/
Box Office: 020 7478 0100