Princess Promenade – Review – ★★★★★
A deliciously sordid trip back through time to the glory years of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and its queer inhabitants. Another Duckie triumph!
From renowned queer collective Duckie – the amazing people behind all the best nights out you ever had – comes another unmissable night in the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. And this time, it’s not a lie night stumble and/or fumble after last-orders!
Princess Promenade is a -duh! – promenade theatre show featuring ten performance installations from the absolute creme de la creme of the queer scene: Not Your Circus Dog, Dickie Beau, Ursula Martinez, George Chakravarthi, Harold Offeh, Krishna Istha, Bird la Bird, Ronald Samm, Neil Bartlett, Francois Testory, Kate Conway, D’relle West, Elsabet Yonas, Zed Gregory, Zia X, Elijah W Harris, Tamir Amar Pettet, Pilar Bono, Delle Williams and EJ Scott.
Each installation seeks to inform and entertain, exploring the social archaeology of queer underground Georgian London. The performers are set up at sites around the gardens and adjacent buildings – this is very much NOT an event for those looking to sit back and let the entertainment come to them.
Instead, you are encouraged to plot your own route of delight and debauchery, taking in appropriately politicised history lessons, drag artistry, video art, poetic movements and note-perfect music – with ‘calling cards’ handed out a each stop, such that this cultural stroll has something of a treasure hunt feel.
To pick out a few of our highlights: we were wowed by the supreme vocals of Ronald Samm, scandalised (in a good way) by ‘punk queer crip-reclaiming neurodivergent cabaret collective’ Not Your Circus Dog, and tickled by the historically revealing video piece from Ursula Martinez. But there is really no weak link – every stop on he promenade tour delivers, from Bird la Bird’s rousing opening set piece, to the crowd-pleasing finale. And special mention must go to Marisa Carnesky’s street gangs (the spitters, the scratchers, the flashers and the slashers), giving audiences something to enjoy/endure between performance sites.
As ever, Duckie have curated a unique audience experience, like no other night you’ll spend in London. That the Princess Promenade manages to balance historical education with entertainment is testament to the research and preparatory work which has gone into this, as well as the usual high production standards and a commitment to creating a memorable experience. At this, Duckie is really without peer.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.