With racy gags and outlandish costumes, Kirk Vs Ming is a Star Trek spoof that satirises not only the hammy acting and unlikely plots of science-fiction shows, but also their issues with representation and agency.
Theatre company Bad Vs Evil has previously produced thrillingly chaotic Christmas shows for Bristol’s Wardrobe Theatre. It’s a shame, then, that in aping the camp, stilted nature of the source material, the show often comes off as laboured itself, with frequent pauses between scenes and jokes that don’t quite land stopping a flow ever developing.
The story meanders in a way that would be fine if swept along by the madcap antics of Andrew Kingston and Harry Humberstone’s previous work, but instead creates only occasional moments of hilarity, such as Humberstone’s Emperor Ming munching on cress while nervously wooing his captive or Kingston’s fight against an incorporeal Smokeman.
There are some clever ideas in the show. Mrs Dennis (Carmen Monoxide, in a role that references Star Trek’s Uhura, while standing in for every female character who’s only there to have the plot explained to her) can at first only lip sync to a limited selection of pre-recorded lines, but later takes the microphone for herself.
When she does, there are some really gorgeous songs (penned by Ben Osborn), paired with choreography that is simultaneously precise and ridiculous. But, as with so much of the show, it fails to build to something cohesive.