The Return of the Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, Live! is a larger-than-life extravaganza of drag, comedy, and social commentary. I was a fan of both Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme (DeLa) beforehand, but their performance skills make this show enjoyable even to those having their first experience of drag. Having previously seen the duo’s 2020 online show, I was thoroughly impressed at writer and producer BenDeLaCreme’s ability to breathe new life into the holiday show concept.
Do be warned: this show is not safe for work! A running gag is Jinkx’s penchant for crude sex jokes, which are contrasted with DeLa’s sugar-sweet attitude towards the holidays. The self-aware, tongue-in-cheek humour is intelligent, through which they concoct entertaining, insightful reflections on life in 2021. We are invited to laugh both with them and at them: my jaw was aching from smiling by the end of the first act.
The show’s musical numbers offer a fantastic opportunity to really show off the stars’ vocal talents. A particular highlight is Jinkx’s comic rendition of ‘Oh Holy Night’, in which she makes a show of floundering while in a fight with her co-star. As well as being endearingly hilarious, Jinkx’s truly stunning classical training is an amazing treat. Other musical numbers include a parody of middle-class WASP Christmas traditions, a Santa Claus conspiracy theory to the tune of ‘Rasputin’, and the grand finale ‘Everyone Is Traumatised by Christmas’.
The incorporation of puppets into the performance was an absolute joy to watch. Peppy the Peppermint is a talking candy found “under a tampon” in DeLa’s purse from 2019. This sweet, innocent soul is untarnished by the horrors of the pandemic and helps to keep festive spirits high, to the cynical Jinkx’s dismay. The stars’ interactions with the puppet, particularly Jinkx’s outward spite, had me choking on my drink, and the use of saccharine puns brought great merri-mint. We also see Jinkx impressively operating a sock puppet: it takes a true star to convey a whole personality with just their right arm!
Red and green lighting set a cosy and festive scene whilst the staging is simple, leaving the attention to fall on the two larger-than-life personalities. A favourite understated moment of mine was that Jinkx could be seen smoking a cigarette while DeLa held a candy cane in the same fashion. I was tickled that the show’s stagehand, dubbed “Hunky the Elf” and dressed in a sexy elf costume, was played by DeLa’s real-life partner, Gus Lanza. Costuming was equally as breath-taking – I don’t know where they are sourcing matching sequinned, light-up Christmas tree outfits for two grown men, but I’d love to know if I can get a women’s size 8.
The show underscored the importance of togetherness above all else, a message more pertinent now than ever before. Both at the start and end of the production the queens noted how thankful they were for the audience supporting live theatre and commended the achievements of their small production team. It was a lovely touch and complemented the message of the show, leaving me feeling warm and fuzzy.
This production was dazzling. I found myself absolutely enamoured with the two stars. It was refreshing to watch something that acknowledged the stress of the pandemic but nonetheless managed to lift my spirits. This is a memorable must-see production for all those who can handle some drag queen humour!
Written and directed by: BenDeLaCreme
Produced by: BenDeLaCreme in association with Soho Theatre and Tim Whitehead
The Return of the Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, Live! played at Troxy as part of an international tour. Check the artists website for future dates.