Seven Sins by Showtime Cabaret at Café de Paris

FullSizeRender (35)

On Friday night we were invited into the dark and opulent depths of Café de Paris for their new regular Friday night show ‘Seven Sins’. This was our first trip to the famed Café – “the glittering jewel of London” – and it will certainly not be our last.

Lead to our table by a lovely mermaid we were informed that we would be witnessing an extremely sexy and dangerous new show! There were rules we had to abide by, but these did not extend to dancing on the tables and hanging from the chandelier. The dinner was exquisite and were fortunate for the very attentive and kind Marta, who served us and answered all our questions throughout the evening.

FullSizeRender (34)

And so on to the show. Our MC for the night, Reuben Kaye, was tremendous, describing himself as a homosexual T-Rex. He strutted around the crowd with the perfect mix of character, sass, humour and personality that had the audience in the palm of his hand. He was probably the finest MC we have ever witnessed singing a collection of songs in opera-gothic style and having audience members in fits of laughter. Quick witted and sharp he had the perfect reason for not going up to the birthday tables tucked away under the balcony “I’m like Simba – I can only go where the light touches”.

The first act was about envy. It was a brilliant male acrobatic ring performance. The most impressive moment of which was when he hung from the ring using only his shoulder blades. This was followed by gluttony, a rather unsettling knife-swallowing act, made more gruesome by the sheer speed the little red riding hood performer forced spoons, forks and swords down her throat. Then we came to greed, performed by Chrisalys. He was a rather frightening pig in pinstripe suit who trotted about the stage throwing cash in the air and blowing fire into the sky – an explosive ending to the second half.

IMG_2991

The second half started with more more gags from Reuben before it was straight in with lust as another young sinner performed some incredible feats of acrobatic strength made even more impressive when his shoes were lit on fire. This was followed by sloth – a brilliant burlesque piece performed by the sexy and salacious Bettsie Bon Bon. From here it was wrath with a tiny oriental girl swinging around the stage by her hair followed by a big ensemble song. Audience members had been picked on earlier in the night, with jokes flying at them from the fork-tongued Reuben Kaye, however what was about to happen to the Ginger Wig was a little unexpected. The ensemble number ended in front of our table, when suddenly every performer turned to look directly at us. Arms, hands and toes, unbuttoned our shirt in a flash, as we were licked from navel to cheek and fed strawberries from the mouth of Little Red Riding Hood – just your regular Friday night as the Ginger Wig!

IMG_2988

Finally the show ended with pride, a spectacular hula hoop performance celebrating more than the sin with the up-coming parade in London. Fire was thrown into the mix before someone in metal lingerie appeared with a circular saw creating a star-scape of sparks above the performer.

Everything had a touch of the Devil about it, from the performance to the venue to the night itself. We almost felt if employed by the Café, the only way to leave is in a coffin – just the kind of macabre feeling you want from a cabaret show. Brilliant all round service and entertainment from this long standing bastion of cabaret in London. Completely corrupted, we left the chamber of this glittering jewel, electrified with energy and slunk out into the London night, slipped in sin.

Highlight of the Show – Reuben Kaye – the most devilish host.

WIGS 5/5

Advertisements

BARBU by Cirque Alfonse at London Wonderground

Barbu

Wild bearded circus came to the London Wonderground at the Spiegeltent this week. A team of six performers and three instrumentalists performed to an enthusiastic and packed circus tent.

Opening on roller skates there were moments when we thought someone would fly into the audience, the danger of the situation magnifying the excitement we felt from this adrenaline pumped opening. There was some brilliant acrobatics and feats of strengths from the chaps whilst the ladies did some beautiful ring swinging. The juggling was also very good, however, there were a couple of mistakes in this section. There was also a phenomenal magic trick in the middle of the performance, the kind which leaves you scratching your head as you exit the show.

The brilliance of this piece though was the way they weaved humour throughout. A brilliant recurring joke was about one chap trying to balance golf clubs, which was possibly a swipe at an extravagant version of the same feat performed by Cirque du Soleil recently. His attempts at balancing the clubs were always ruined by the interventions of others. The final part of this was hilarious with his male colleague dancing provocatively around him. The Mentalist added more comedy to the piece with his bizarre act plus nudity whilst the audience participation sections were extremely funny too.

There was a power cut halfway through, and we wish the musicians had responded to it more quickly. Eventually they abandoned their musical posts and came centre stage for an acoustic violin, drum and vocal song. Fortunately the power cut did not detract from the overall performance and we were even more excited when things kicked off again.

This was an extremely entertaining, bearded Canadian circus show. The perfect evening spectacle from these wild Québécois.

Highlight of the piece – The opening on skates – pulling each other around in a circle by their beards.

WIGS 4/5

Hotel Black Cat by The Black Cat Cabaret at Republic

HBC-poster-FINAL-600px

Situated by the lovely Brighton beach, Republic was the perfect venue for a cabaret show. We could feel the cabaret vibes from the moment we walked in!

Greeted by Dusty Limits, the Host of the night, the audience was welcomed into the formerly grand Hotel Black Cat. Throughout the evening we were introduced to the various characters, or creatures, that worked at or visited the hotel. The performance combined various cabaret and circus acts; dancing, juggling, burlesque, fire artists, hoop aerialists, a singing string quartet – that together created a magical and mesmerising spectacle that had a very eerie quality to it.

The events of the performance were threaded together by Dusty Limits, but the plot felt clunky and slightly unclear. Perhaps the plot was not the main focus of this performance, but rather the audience’s immersion into the sinister and decadent realm of the Hotel. Finishing the show with their own version of the Eagle’s hit song Hotel California, we were left with the phrase “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” which aptly summarised the atmosphere of this mad and dark show. All in all, Hotel Black Cat was a highly entertaining and sexy circus experience.

Highlight of the show – an enchanting and sexy burlesque act in an glowing cape, gorgeously performed by Vicky Butterfly.

WIGS 4/5

The Ginger Viking

L’enfant Qui by Théâtre d’un Jour at the Institut Français d’Écosse

This was a hugely engaging exploration of the the childhood of Jephan de Villiers, a French sculptor born in 1940. Presented by Belgian group ‘Théâtre d’un Jour’ in the crescent outside the Institut Français d’Écosse, this piece fused music, acrobatics, puppetry, circus and live music to tell the story of Jephan’s start to life dogged by ill health. The setting, in the tent in the crescent, had the benefit of the sound of raindrops tapping on the canopy adding to the ambience.

Rare in theatre these days, but genuinely present in this piece was the fear for one’s life. Probably deriving from the opening scene when a man dragged an axe out and then tried to slam it into a stump only for it to go flying. A lucky audience member caught it, handle-side and we all gasped a sigh of relief. Who knew if that was planned? This was followed by the same axe, attached to the man’s wrist by a piece of string being spun around faster and faster – the audience, myself included, notably retreated into their seats. The same thing happened when they swung huge sticks around, coming within inches of the front rows’ faces. Nothing like the threat of personal injury to liven up a show!

The acrobatics, however, were of the highest calibre and with only the dirt floor to soften a potential fall, I didn’t just fear for my life, but for those of the performers. This is not to say they seemed amateur or risked an accident. I say it only because they were doing things in acrobatics I had not seen before. Three people on top of each other, flinging someone through the air only to catch them the other way round, caused gasps from the audience.

If I actually had to explain the piece, however, I would struggle. A puppet child, representing Jephan, explored the dirt floor whilst things took place beside him, ropes flying in, acrobats spinning about, the cellist playing, all representations of ideas forming in the ill young artist’s mind? The mood music from the cellist was perfectly set alongside the piece and she herself was not afraid to join in the acrobatics adding more layers to this rich and striking piece.

A great show from this Belgian group! You will have to see it yourself to understand it. But do! This is not one to miss!

Highlight of the show – The cellist continuing to play whilst being carried above the heads of two of the acrobats. “Original” said the 90-year-old in front of me. If it was for him, it certainly was for me. Fantastique!

5/5 WIGS