Reviewer: James Garrington
Did you ever notice how many villains there are in Disney?
It’s not at all surprising if you take the time to consider the origins of almost all of the Disney classics. It also explains why a cabaret evening based around “a celebration of villainy in song” would take the Disney catalogue for the vast majority of its material, when so many of the villains get a good song or two.
This is absolutely not a fluffy concert of Disney material to bring the kids to though. It is a camp, adult comedy evening – part music, part stand-up, part drag show, part improvisation as Joe Black and “terminally bewildered henchwoman Friedrich Hollandaise” make their way through the première of a new act with the material not yet entirely mastered. Not that it suffers as a result of the pauses as the pair discuss what the next line of the song should be, or where the sheet music might have been left – an episode that led to Hollandaise at the piano trying to play by reading off his phone, with the screen in danger of locking every few seconds. It all adds to the fun and enjoyment of the evening, making the whole event seem spontaneous and unique to that particular audience.
Black can clearly sing, as he demonstrates occasionally, but for most of the evening he brushes aside any attempt at vocal accuracy in favour of interpretation which may annoy any musical purists in the audience – if you’re expecting a beautifully delivered concert then this is certainly not for you. Indeed, by the time the show has been running only a few minutes you realise that the music part of the evening is almost secondary. Black has a knack for drawing the audience into the performance, so conversations between the two performers often also involve audience members who interject their own comments and suggestions, until it starts to feel less of a performance and more a conversation between friends. This wouldn’t work in many venues, but the intimate Old Joint Stock is just the place for this sort of event.
Dressed in a long slinky gown, lit in suitably evil shades of green, and armed only with a magic mirror, smoke machine and some papier mâché skulls – a cue for a comment about the popular press – Black and accompanist/comedy partner Hollandaise deliver an act that is at times so absurd that it is hysterically funny. It does include a number of songs of course – and alongside all the Disney there are snippets from Sweeney Todd, Hairspray, Little Shop of Horrors and the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella.
With some adult content, it’s all hugely camp, ridiculously absurd and extremely funny.
Runs until 10 March 2018 | Image: Contributed