Review: Alright Bitches! (Above the Stag)

We’re in Gran Canaria, where the paint is peeling on the chalets over at Los Hombres. Chatty guide Thabian (Kane Verrall) tells us over the tannoy we’re there to have a good time. This is the world of Alright Bitches!, written by Martin Blackburn.

Good friends Garth (Daniel Breakwell, as queen bitch with a soft centre) and Max (Josiah Eloi, brash but unfulfilled) find themselves next to couple Jason (Wilson Armour, tense and terse) and Ollie (Marcus J Foreman, fresh-faced and sweet), who are celebrating their first anniversary.

In this gay utopia their raucous friend Pam (Jackie Pulford) has joined them for “a detox from cock”, something she finds hard to avoid and never stops talking about.

It all feels very retro, with a drag queen (“Miss Charity Bucket”) leading bingo and young twinks in budgie smugglers populating the beach. Very “ooh er missus” in its vibe.

Production shot from Alright Bitches

There are interludes where music blares as the characters dance, and each scene is bookended by those voiceover double-entendres. Frankie Howerd or Larry Grayson would slide right in.

Garth is getting slightly too old for shenanigans in the darkroom at Toolbox; a little jaded with casual hookups. Flatmate Matt, with ever more tasteless t-shirts, has binned “Grindr, Growlr, Scruff and Squirt” for the week.

Jason, older than his partner, works in banking and is uptight; a gay holiday resort is his idea of hell. Ollie chats and sings along to his iPod but loses serious credibility in the group when he reveals he’s never seen Rent.

As for Pam, loud and indiscreet, she’s the epitome of the singleton of a certain age seeking a holiday romance. Coarse and funny, she’s a typical straight female ally you’d find a lifetime ago.

Jackie Pulford in Alright Bitches

Alright Bitches! feels very clamped on a past of a certain time, where “girls” put on their best smiles to explore sexual freedom. Kisses are freely exchanged, and beaches are for frolicking.

Across from the main two chalets is an old man they unkindly label “Quasimodo”. By the end we discover his story and background, which places matters in perspective.

If I have a small gripe with this show it is down to the pacing and the level of cliché on display. It is a lot of fun: a little bit obvious at times, but grab your Prince Percival and your inflatable banana and you’ll have a ball.

The performances are enjoyable throughout, and moments where secrets unfold or characters open up feel authentic. The set by David Shields is brilliant, while the lighting (Joseph Ed Thomas) and sound (Paul Gavin) get you in the mood for a party.

Alright Bitches! is running at Above The Stag (near Vauxhall station) until 4 June, and is directed by Bryan Hodgson. Grab your tickets here.

Image credit: PBG Studios

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