Heklina’s new nightclub Oasis opened its theatrical side last night with Shit & Champagne, D’Arcy Drollinger’s fantastic drag farce that originally ran last year at the space formerly known as Rebel, and continues its current run through February 14.
Drag shows are always a delight, but “Shit & Champagne” glorifies the drag musical number into a two-hour-plus, full-cast send-up of bad 70s action movies with a lot of good wigs. The production is simple and the script is phenomenally crude. But it’s quality entertainment in the way that one out of every 20 Will Ferrell movies manages to be. The crude humor is carefully layered with Abbott & Costello-style wordplay, sophisticated drag wisecracks, and fight scenes skillfully choreographed with cartoon sound effects. There is also plenty of subtle intellectual humor thrown in among the litany of poop, vagina, and penis jokes.
No scenery whatsoever is utilized on stage in this production. But goddamn, do these queens bust out an epic array of wigs, costumes, and characters to make the two hours really flow.
D’Arcy Drollinger establishes herself here as one of San Francisco’s most talented drag stars. She’s like if Divine went to Jenny Craig. As the star, author, director, choreographer (and part-owner of the venue), Shit & Champagne is her baby and she carries it capably, relentlessly and hilariously as its drag mother. D’Arcy Drollinger has that rare ability to always be funny onstage, regardless of material, circumstance or situation.
It’s a slightly retooled cast from the show’s 2014 run. Matthew Martin returns and is transcendent as the comic villain Dixie Stampede, in a two-piece, empire-waist, peplum-top “She-vel Knievel” jumpsuit that absolutely must be seen to be believed. The supporting cast is fantastic across the board, but keep a particular eye out for Retrofit owner Steven LeMay as ‘the world’s top calf model’ Brandy White.
This show is not for everyone. It’s not called Shit & Champagne by accident, you guys. Shit plays a major plot point throughout this production, and some of the gags are indeed gag-inducing. There is a graphic sexual joke at least every 45 seconds in this play. Some of them are funny! But be ready for a lot of them, and some that are not. This is two-plus hours of drag queens making shit jokes, sex jokes, drug jokes, and wig jokes. It’s hilarious, but I’m not sure the appeal is universal.
The show’s simple formula does not quite support all two-plus hours of jokery. But you are not going there for the suspense of how this play ends. The couple-few attempts at political and economic satire do not hit their mark. Shit & Champagne is a drag play whose second act does drag, in more ways than one. But every performer in this show has the onstage moxie to be very, very funny even when its formula wears a little thin.
But the second act does contains a certain one-liner so supremely funny and outrageously insensitive that the show has to stop for a full five minutes while the audience composes itself from hysterical laughter. That certain one-liner alone is worth the price of your $25 General Admission ticket or $150 VIP Champagne Table ticket.
There is also just a certain thrill to attending a show at Heklina’s brand new club. After a number of zoning hassles, it’s an accomplishment for Oasis to finally be open for business. In this economic environment, it’s appropriate to have at least one nightclub that caters to San Francisco’s cultural legacy instead of just chasing the techie dollar.
And it’s appropriate that the show opening this nightclub be called Shit and Champagne. Because Shit and Champagne had me wetting and soiling myself with laughter for two solid hours.
Shit and Champagne continues its run at Oasis with 7 p.m. performances every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through February 14.. Tickets are $25 for General Admission seating and $150 for VIP Champagne Table seating. You might also want to bring singles for the pole dancers performing before and after the show!