You don’t need to be a Star Trek fan or a drag show fan to love the new Star Trek Live! show at The Oasis — but you probably do need to be one or the other. Trekkies will go into warp drive on news that Star Trek Live! Mudd’s Women, a fully reverse-gender stage version of the late 60s sci-fi TV show, is playing through October 31. Addressing the campy “old movie/TV show live onstage” void left by the closure of the Dark Room, Star Trek Live! Mudd’s Women hilariously and faithfully recreates one specific episode from the Star Trek series canon. Except that women play the male roles, men play the female roles and the entire enterprise is subverted with campy sex humor.
An all-drag Star Trek is a classic “You either want to see that or you don’t” proposition. If you want to see that, you will spend 90 minutes roaring with laughter, marveling at the satirical references and admiring the pinpoint accuracy of the wigs and costumes. If you don’t want to see that, you’ll sit there for an hour and a half wondering when this play is going to start picking up steam.
You’ve read this far, so you probably do want to see that. And you absolutely should. The cast is a blast, but Star Trek Live! is a vehicle for drag king icon Leigh Crow. Billed as “the world’s only female William Shatner impersonator”, she’s more the world’s funniest William Shatner impersonator. With mad gesticulation skills and an uncanny ability to feed on the crowd, Leigh Crow is turning into the San Francisco stage version of Leslie Nielsen.
Honey Mahogany (RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 5) is great as Uhura and has magnificent legs. But like Uhura on the TV series, her character is underutilized and underappreciated — a point acknowledged in a hysterical second-act gag. The queen who really gets a chance to shine is Jef Valentine, who does most of the dramatic heavy lifting as one of the tit-ular "Mudd's Women”.
But just as Star Trek was a male-dominated show, a reverse-gender Star Trek is an inherently drag king-dominated show. Amber Sommerfeld, Ammo Eisu, Zelda Koznofski and Emily Mcgowan are all consistently funny with repetitive gags as the Enterprise crew. You’ll laugh even if you’re not such a Star Trek fan that you’re still keeping up with the Cardassians.
Star Trek Live! Mudd’s Women does not challenge you or make you think or ever try to be meaningful theater. It’s a fun, wacky night out for nerds and perverts with better production value than a lot of other movie and TV show reenactments seen on SF stages in recent years. And it takes you to away to a place, to paraphrase another great science fiction work, “where men are not real men, where women are not real women and small, furry creatures from Alpha Centauri are not real small, furry creatures from Alpha Centauri”.
Star Trek Live! Mudd’s Women plays every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at The Oasis through October 31. Tickets are available online.Image: Gareth Gooch