After two years of offering the Duckie collective's queer cabaret as the Christmas show in The Pit, the Barbican's BITE strand now presents one of Duckie's core performers, Christopher Green, in his own right, sort of. Green is better known in drag as Tina C, a country music superstar from "Clitoris, Tennessee... do you know where that is?", who is a sharp blend of teeth-rotting sincerity and rapacious self-regard, and here performs a seasonal selection aimed to help us search for our inner Santa.
Green/Tina's basic approach is the Edna Everage method: set up your character as a star so that she can lampoon both herself, innocently, and the audience, puckishly. Tina strides the stage in a kind of Nashville principal-boy costume (and with legs more shapely than any I've seen in pantomime this year), offering her thoughts on the world in between musical numbers. Where she scores big is in not ducking political gags. No sooner has she entered than she is regaling us with the tale of how she needed to get to Britain urgently from Washington, and caught a military flight that happened to be going this way, with some other passengers all in orange. She later praises Condi Rice for "travelling the world, being aggressive to countries you haven't even heard of, and all in white Jaeger, and you know how that creases."
The songs themselves are the weak link. Although excellently played and arranged, they are less New Country in genre than slabs of singer-songwriter plangency. Green's singing voice as Tina is fundamentally from the nasal Alanis Morrisette mould, albeit enlivened with coloratura splurges. Each song really only contains one or two decent gags, so what we get are either semi-developed fragments or full numbers that outstay their welcome. Speaking of which, value for money and encores are all very well, and things may have been a little untogether on the first night, but when a supposedly 75-minute show overruns by more than a full half-hour I find my goodwill beginning to be taxed as sorely as were the people of Judaea under Caesar Augustus. I've enjoyed the hour-long Tina C shows I've seen before, but I'm afraid this was a case of too much of a merely good thing.
Written for the Financial Times.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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