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Review: Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World at Shakespeare's Globe

Photos: Bradley Felstead

 

Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World and Shakespeare's Globe seemed an unlikely coupling. The theatre has always seemed a little stuffy to me - too proud of the historical accuracy of its structure to allow one to experience it as anything more than a museum piece. Alternative Miss World on the other hand is an irreverent celebration of difference and an entirely more visceral experience. Saturday night saw the coming together of this strange pairing and the result was delicious – a heady cocktail of mock Tudor and ye olde neon that worked so well you wondered why on earth it had taken so long for them to get it together.

The theme of this year's Alternative Miss World, the 13th since its inaugural event in 1972, was ‘Neon Numbers’ which inspired the glorious neon pink, yellow, green and blue palette that saturated the stage. Set against the historical fakery of Shakespeare’s Globe this colour scheme lent a hyperreal luminosity to all that you set eyes on. The place was packed to the rafters - us groundlings in the pit; us misfits, jesters and drunks, adorned in our own home-crafted interpretations of the theme cheered and jeered throughout proceedings. The highly dressed-up folk in the royal balcony threw glo-sticks at us.



Logan emerged from high up in the gods, Sally Rand style, elegantly poised in a hoop and was joined by his co-host for the evening, Grayson Perry. I don’t think that any hosts for any show have ever been so perfectly cast - irreverent and respectable - Logan and Perry were an utter treat. In appearance they were each other’s day-glo reflections glimpsed in a twisted hall of mirrors. In personality they were reminiscent of two favourite naughty aunts that rarely get together but when they do you know that they are bound to get up to mischief.  

Like the unalternative Miss World this event is split into three rounds - daywear, swimwear and eveningwear. This year there were 17 contestants who were a mixed bunch in terms of gender, age (17 – 70) and nationality. The list included Logan’s brother and sister, milliner Piers Atkinson, the Neo-Naturalist Binnie Sisters and Miss Zero+ (the new reigning AMW) who came from Russia especially to take part. Each paraded a new outfit for every round. 51 different turns!! The highlights are over whelming so have opted for a few random moments instead:

Miss Nether Regions daywear – her telephone box dress draped over the shoulders topped with a 2-foot hair-do embedded with a large telephone was accessorised perfectly with a well coiffed boy poodle wearing no pants.

 


A number of the entrants' creations were large and some were particularly unwieldy - the comedy of errors that accompanied contestants' efforts to fit through the historically accurately-sized doorway added a hint of Benny Hill to the proceedings. Watching Miss Pi Paulus try to enter the stage in the giant inflatable octopus that was her swimwear outfit felt like being witness to a very strange birthing ritual.

2014 saw a great deal of inflatable entrants and at times I felt as if I might have been transported into an adult version of the Telly Tubbies. Miss 0+, who wore a latex face-covering body suit with alternating inflatable hair-dos and extravagant attire constructed from balloons, was asked by Grayson what she liked doing: ‘inflating’ was the reply.

Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World 2014 at Shakespeare’s Globe was a bonkers celebration of shared rituals, personal pageantry and DIY art that served to remind us that the creation of alternative landscapes is not something we are ready to lock away in a museum quite yet.

The winner for this years event was the delightful Miss Zero+ (Sasha Frolova) - see the fabulous picture below.

Read our interview with Andrew Logan by Ben Walters here.
 

Portrait by Paul Morgan.