In a wildcard addition to our ‘classics reinvented’ series we visit the Mill Co Project in N1, where an alt-drag homage to 80s supersoap Dallas is playing until Sunday.
I have to declare an interest in reimaginings of the 80s Ewing saga, ever since appearing in a school production that shunned the traditional nativity play in favour of a Dallas-set retelling of Noah and his Ark. So it was with great anticipation I made my first visit to the Mill Co Project, in De Beauvoir Town, N1. Closer - in every way - to Dalston Kingsland than Dallas, Texas, this venue, a new creative social enterprise has nevertheless attracted big-hitting partners such as the Royal Court and the Barbican.
Stark Dallas Reloaded is a “Texas-sized glamour drama” created by self-styled tranny superstar Jonny Woo and bearded lady Timberlina, who also play warring Mrs Ewings while David Mills fills JR’s boots with aplomb.
Downing more liquor than you can hide under a ten gallon hat, Jonny Woo as the dipsomaniac Sue Ellen battles it out with Timberlina’s disingenuously wholesome Pam to become the pre-eminent Mrs Ewing. One clad in an armour of metallic blousons, the other in day-glo bodystockings, both come armed with swivel-eyed death stares. The wigs get wilder, the outfits gradually more dishevelled as the characters totter towards their booze-addled climax.
Part Southfork BBQ, part barn dance, part drag-fabulous anarchy, on the surface it appears a chaotically homespun production where on the surface nothing appears slicker than Sue Ellen’s lip gloss. But this is a well-observed pastiche, down to its authentic disregard for credible plotlines – the original being hard to out-do with its year-long dream sequences that stretched credulity to the Mexican border. For all its 14 long-running seasons and tales of Machiavellian millionaires, Dallas is revealed as a simple tale, spun – hilariously and repeatedly - around a dysfunctional family and fuelled by sexual frustration, the whisky tumbler and the telephonic non sequitur.
Seated on hay bales and tucking into beer and Big Apple hotdogs, the enthusiastic audience (comprising fans of Woo and co as much as of Dallas) enjoyed the show. As did the cast who occasionally could barely supress their giggling - in a candid acknowledgement at the absurdity of it all that was entirely lacking from the original TV cast’s performance.
Like all great and glorious parodies, you’ll come away with a host of new catchphrases and, if not an oil baron, at least perhaps a check-shirted dance partner from the post-show hoedown hosted by Rednecks DJ Hey Baylen.
STARK DALLAS RELOADED is at The Mill Co Project in Haggerston, N1, until Saturday 17th June.
Posted by Mark