Ginger Johnson is a drag queen, member of LGBTQ+ performance collective Sink The Pink and now it seems, a children’s television presenter. As the audience enter the performance space we see a large screen to the side of the stage. This presents CCTV footage of the green room of the Pleasance Dome, where it looks like a performer is getting ready for a show. Eventually Ginger Johnson is introduced over the loudspeakers and enters the stage in a boisterous and effervescent manner. She runs around the room giving a high five to each member of the audience. Ginger is all sparkles and smiles and is dressed up in an outfit that makes her look a bit like a tasty Quality Street. This initial joyful tone eventually makes way for the performer to discuss their anxieties and the expression of these feelings is what makes Ginger Johnson’s Happy Place such a brilliant and deeply moving show, that somehow manages to remains entertaining throughout.
Ginger Johnson’s Happy Place is a one person variety hour that takes influence from children’s television and uses puppetry, video, comedy and music to tackle personal and important themes. Current political and personal oppressions have shaken Ginger and made her create a Happy Place to retreat to. At one point we are introduced to a bright, furry orange hand puppet called Philip Seymour Hoffman. Why the puppet shares the name with the actor is not explained, but it doesn’t really need to be. Looking for an explanation for everything that goes on in this Happy Place will only take away from the unpredictable excitement that is presented on the stage. Songs and comedic anecdotes add to the strangeness and Ginger’s personality creates a welcoming and fun environment that feels engaging and inviting. When Ginger tackles themes of mental health and anxiety it is done in such a considered way that the audience knows that we are in safe hands. Ginger does the difficult thing of presenting these important themes in a entertaining and captivating way. This makes Ginger Johnson’s Happy Place feel like a vital performance and a safe place to consider mental health and well being.
Time in Ginger Johnson’s Happy Place just flies by and the ending is quite abrupt. Prior to the conclusion a song about the anxieties of constantly being switched on to social media and other forms of communication leads way to the finale. This ending is upbeat and positive, but an hour does not seem long enough to spend in this fascinating, weird and considerate world.