Escape From Planet Trash is like the long lost millennial child of the Rocky Horror Show and Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and if that doesn’t excite you then I have no idea what you’re doing reading a theatre review and I despair for your insipid heteronormative soul blandly waiting in line to die and go to its insipid heteronormative heaven. But I digress.
This magical play by Ginger Johnson (also director and performer, because why limit yourself to just one talent) sees Captain Houston (Mairi Houston), one of the last remaining humans in the universe, and Private Parts (Mahatma Khandi), an alien scientist from the planet Gooch whose work focuses on intergalactic genitalia, crash land on a planet covered in rubbish that turns out (literally at one point) to be the arse end of nowhere. It also turns out to be what’s left of Earth in 2050 after being struck by the twin apocalypse of “men” and “money”.
They soon run across the inimitable Ginger Johnson (playing herself) and her son Sonny-Jim (David Cumming) the only surviving humans on the planet after the rest of the human population has been wiped out by bird-flu. This sets in motion two of the funniest, strangest, most life-affirming hours of theatre I am ever likely to see as the quartet sing, dance and sashay through a magnificent set of improbable run-ins with the superb multi-rolling Lavinia Coop and Maxi More who play everything from poverty tourists (“say suffering”) to an actual piece of shit with severe self-esteem issues. Most nefarious of all, however, is the turkey mastermind who is seeking to “turn the dinner tables” on humanity after centuries of seasonal slaughter through a mix of Rolling Stones covers and ruthless “fowl play”.
The sheer breadth of imagination on display in the production is rare enough in itself, but is made all the more remarkable as each aspect of Escape From Planet Trash is woven into a seamless tapestry of the highest quality. It has just about everything we could possibly wish for and more: an unapologetically queer and unapologetically fabulous intergalactic post-apocalyptic satire that manages to troll every dodgy sci-fi film you’ve ever seen whilst also providing moving insights about the climate emergency and the bleak future we are doing our best to sleepwalk into; a light-hearted but devilish sense of humour that treats the metadramatic, the obscene and the downright silly with equal panache; an iconic soundtrack including spoofs of Queen (“trash Gordon”), David Bowie, Muse and Eric Idle; an inter-species coming-of-age romance; even a brief segue into everyone’s favourite viral youtube video.
By the end of the night, I leave the Pleasance Theatre reassured that humanity’s limitless desire to develop innovative new techniques to destroy ourselves and everything around us is matched only by our infinite need to take the piss out ourselves whilst we do so.
Escape From Planet Trash is playing the Pleasance Theatre until 22 December. For more information and tickets, visit the Pleasance Theatre website.