“The most powerful, passionate, political, provocative, personal and pertinent show in town; Arcade is like Ruby Wax, Bette Midler, Pamela Anderson and Danny DeVito all rolled into one.”
Mark Shenton – Sunday Express
“Beautifully punctuated throughout by dancers from the full, physical spectrum, Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! is staggering proof that if you free your mind, your ass will follow! Show of the year, without doubt, and the decade!”
Sasha Selavie – QX Magazine
“If you have ever questioned your gay identity, ever looked around and wondered where your place in this fucked up world is, then it’s probably here – at the foot of a 60-something faghag surrounded by erotic dancers, in a makeshift stripper joint in Dalston.”
Bob Henderson – Gay Times
“Go and see it – unless you’re appalled at the prospect, in which case see it twice”
Rachael Claye – Islington Gazette
4 stars – The Times (see below)
“a landmark production…has got to be the smartest, most quotable theatrical party in town.”
Donald Hutera – The Times
“…from the astonishingly limber male dancer Andrea Pelone gyrating wildly in ladies underwear to the remarkable pole dancing Sasha Allen. There is quite literally something for everyone.”
Paul Vale – The Stage
“…this euphoric experience creates a sense of community between ‘us’ the punters and ‘them’ the performers and stars.”
Jane Czyzselska – Diva Magazine
“Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! is the true queer epic of 20th century America: with razor-sharp insight and vivid detail, it probes depths merely glanced at by the timid lyrical visions of Kushner’s Angels in America or the confessional intimacy of Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band.”
C J Lazaretti – This Is Cabaret
“Penny Arcade does something incredible in her show…there are numerous lines that are laugh-out-loud funny…there are moments of pathos too…Go and see it”
Rachael Claye – London 24
“Maybe not for Michael McIntyre fans, but an utterly unique comedy experience.”
Bruce Dessau – Evening Standard
“(Penny Arcade) welcomes you into her family of erotic dancers, avant-garde performers and free thinkers.”
Stephanie Soh – Whatsonstage
“I went to see this show and I felt totally inspired and liberated as a woman I felt strong and joyful. Such amazing monologues with such strength and depth. The dancing was just sensational from start to finish! I cant fault one thing on the show except i wish we had more time to dance on the stage. its a MUST see!”
katiescott – Guardian Reader
“I LOVED the show. I have never felt so empowered as I did after this show.”
Emily Jones – Guardian Reader
“The night I was there people were on their feet clapping and cheering at the end. I found the show incredibly uplifting and moving and left thinking that only the most hardened cynic could not appreciate the show’s message of love of tolerance.”
DJDJ – Guardian Reader
“Funny and poignant, and tender. Penny Arcade’s Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! is back in town, and just at the right time…”
Martin Perry – Out There Magazine
4 STARS from Donald Hutera in The Times
This revival of a landmark production by the downtown New York writer, director and performer Penny Arcade (real name: Susana Ventura) has got to be the smartest, most quotable theatrical party in town. If the half-hour of pre-show erotic moves by eight back-up dancers isn’t enough, within minutes of Arcade’s first appearance as a bolshie phone-sex receptionist, you’ll grasp the reason for all the titular exclamation marks.
As a former Warhol Factory superstar and Quentin Crisp’s soulmate, Arcade, 62 this month, drips avant-garde street cred. This short, mouthy and busty platinum blonde firebrand knows and celebrates her place in history but expands upon it, enlarging her target issues — primarily the socio-political implications of sex and censorship — in shameless and enlightening ways.
First staged two decades ago, Arcade’s hot, rough-and-tumble performance (co-directed by Steve Zehentner) subsequently toured the world and helped to kick-start the “new burlesque” movement. It’s structured as a series of monologues in which she adopts various guises, from economically savvy Southern prostitute to charmingly precocious child. The characters are essentially a channel for acute, hilarious and sometimes ad-libbed observations and the anarchic, inclusive clarion call philosophy that Arcade herself embodies.
Strident she may be, and vulgar in the best sense, but she shoots from both the hip and the heart. Words — and vitality — pour out of her. Masterfully she uses the term “faghag” to tickle our ribs. Shrewdly she strokes the audience’s collective ego, praising the UK as “a place where people still have bad teeth”, before adding, “If the weather was good they would all want to be here.”
Arcade can be wonderfully effective when at her simplest and most direct, as when delivering an impassioned description of the Aids crisis, with the dancers arranged behind her like mannequins but listening like we are.
In another inspired bit, she drifts among us in the dark talking, sharing thoughts and fears. By the end she’s naked, save for the long, sheer American flag draped round her shoulders, railing about the world’s true obscenities and injustices.
Is this liberating soapbox of a show preaching to the already converted? Maybe, maybe not. But when Arcade says, “I bring a message of hope”, you believe her. Audacious and irresistible.
Box office: 020-7503 1646, to July 22. arcolatheatre.com