Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Showzam!: Monsters of Schlock & Abigail Collins


Winter Gardens, Blackpool

Monsters of Schlock
Abigail Collins

It would be hard to imagine two more different acts that actually share the same ability to shock their audience into laughing submission.

Both are featured among the more oddball attractions gathered up for Blackpool’s now-annual Showzam festival of circus and performance.

The resort is the ideal setting for performers who derive some of their style from the promenade showmen and hucksters who once set up stalls along the Golden Mile.

Where fakirs once lay on beds of nails the Monsters of Schlock now inflict equally sharp pain on each other, besides a lot of barbed humour on their audience. And where the forerunners of Abigail Collins once spun multiple hoola-hoops, or perhaps a balancing act, she blends both into extreme character comedy.

Neither are for the easily offended, or—more especially—members of the audience who might find themselves becoming stage dupes.

The self-styled Kings of Stupid, the Canadian Kopek ‘brothers’, hammer nails into their heads, or staple playing cards to other parts of the body, all with the help of spectators. It’s a bizarre comedy double act that still follows the familiar pattern of an over-bearing, motor-mouthed front man and his almost-mute sidekick.

Dressed in showbiz shirts and black kilts, it ain’t subtle, but it is wince-inducingly funny and builds to a climax of spring-loaded and painful assaults on eachother.

Abigail Collins, in the guise of ex-Vegas showgirl, ex-Playboy bunny and ex-teetotaller Peggy Sued is equally blue in her verbal assault on the audience. But where the Monsters might seek to slay you with expletives, she does it all with a gradually bewitching charm.

It’s the kind of act that drag artistes have been getting away with for years, but in more enlightened times it’s the girls’ turn and this Dagenham entertainer is bound to prosper in burlesque cabaret. At times it’s like watching Joan Rivers’s evil love-child, but at the moment she juggles two on-stage stooges—one of whom turns out to be French—into a singing trio, you appreciate that here’s a highly-original artiste at the height of her powers.

Reviewer: David Upton