Dark humour of camp festive offering Gay in a Manger

If you were trying to irritate a devout Christian, calling your festive entertainment A Gay in a Manger would be a good place to start.

A Gay in a Manger is a darkly humorous and camp festive offering. Picture: Contributed
A Gay in a Manger is a darkly humorous and camp festive offering. Picture: Contributed
A Gay in a Manger is a darkly humorous and camp festive offering. Picture: Contributed

Confrontation is not, however, the intention of Laurie Brown, Rosana Cade and Adrian Howells, the team behind The Arches’ semi-improvised adult revue. Rather, the aim is to provide a home to all the waifs and strays who feel neglected by the mass of family-orientated shows that dominate the theatre schedules at this time of year.

“It’s a fun play on words and it gets across the tone of the show, but it certainly isn’t meant to be offensive,” says Cade. “You’re only going to complain about it if you’re homophobic – and homophobia is wrong.”

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She adds: “We’re definitely not anti-Christian, but we are offering an alternative way of looking at Christmas. In general, Christmas is very heteronormative and capitalist, and we’re trying to create something outside of that.

“Everything around Christmas can be so sweet and this is something that is not sweet 
at all.”

Cade, a self-styled “queer artist”, and her good friend Brown are known on the gender-bending cabaret scene as Tranny and Roseannah, roles they are reviving here. Brown, meanwhile, has the extra challenge of starring by day in The Arches’ festive show for younger audiences, The Night Before Christmas, and by night in this X-rated alternative. “We’re doing it on the same set, which is quite funny,” says Cade.

Completing the trio is Howells, best known for a string of solo performance art shows that have explored the nature of intimacy (in one, he gave each audience member a bath in moisturising milk and essential oils). “Adrian pushes Laurie and I to be a lot darker,” says Cade. “He’s got a very dark sense of humour.”

Described as “John Waters hosting a festive Noel’s House Party,” the show promises a cosy night in at Tranny and Roseannah’s, where the yuletide singalongs and festive storytelling are given an extra helping of camp.

A team that thinks panto isn’t camp enough already is clearly hardcore.

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“It’s dirty, trashy camp,” says Cade. “We’re using references from every kind of Christmas show imaginable, which does involve the Nativity and various pantomimes, but the style is queer outrageous cabaret.

“You’ll find everything you’d expect in a Christmas show but done in a slightly different way than normal.

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“It’s a Christmas show for people who don’t want to go to a pantomime.”

• A Gay in a Manger is at The Arches, Glasgow, from tomorrow until 21 December.