Review: Drag-tacular sci-fi as ‘Kirk vs Ming’ returns to Tobacco Factory

11th December 2019

Part comic homage to two iconic sci-fi classics, part sultry drag spectacular Kirk vs Ming at the Tobacco Factory is a fantastic festive treat sure to warm the hearts of even the most scrooge-esque audience.

Stepping out on their own for what is just their second show, the always-excellent Harry Humberstone & Andrew Kingston and their newly formed theatre company Bad vs Evil shows that they remain two of Bristol’s best comedic writers and performers.

Having followed the pair through many of their Wardrobe theatre triumphs (Oedipuss in Boots, Muppits Die Hard and Goldilock, Stock & Three Smoking Bears) it is exciting to see what they will do following a successful crowd funding campaign which helped get their new venture off the ground earlier this year.

More of the same excellent improvised tomfoolery if this outing is anything to go by.

Following a relocation from their usual stomping ground of the Wardrobe Theatre to the Tobacco Factory we find our old friends in the same old tremendous form.

From the outset the pacing and parody is spot on.

Kingston’s Kirk embraces and embellishes all the campness and overacting that William Shatner embodied in the 1960s cult classic. The iconic skin-tight yellow nylon shirt, made famous in the original series, sticks so snugly to Kingston’s ample torso it could easily be mistaken for body paint.

Kingston even honours Kirks famously questionable fight style, all slowly flailing limbs and leisurely developing knockabout.

Kirk is flanked by the beautiful yet disenfranchised Mrs Dennis, played by the excellent Carmen Monoxide, a mini-dress wearing drag queen siren who to start with is voiced by a series of one word computer based phrases.

Monoxide offers a more reflective tone with her phenomenal voice. Whilst “the boys” scrap around her, she asks genuinely uncomfortable questions on everything from marginalisation of female characters to the lack of people of colour in sci-fi.

Harry Humberstone’s Ming recalls Max von Sydow’s portrayal from the Queen sound tracked Flash Gordon of the eighties, creepily evil.

Humberstone’s Ming is simultaneously the evil dictator as well as harmless idiotic northerner, chatting about his love of crest with his evil monkey faced sidekick Andy.

Based primarily around the Flash Gordon narrative the familiarity of it all is only matched by the improvisation and excellent performances.

For a show that runs just 1 hour 10 minutes it really packs a punch, with a finale that is riotously outrageous.

Well worth spending your Christmas cash on, so get along to see this drag-tacular sci-fi triumph!

To get tickets to this excellent show click here.

Kevin McGough