CabaretFestive 18/19LondonReview

The Clementine Show: Christmas Special – The Crazy Coqs, London

Creator: Mark Mander  

Reviewer:  Richard Maguire

The Crazy Coqs at Brassiere Zédel in Piccadilly Circus must be the classiest joint in town with its impressive Art Deco interiors. Equally as impressive is the eclectic programming at the Crazy Coqs with singers, comedians, and even restaurant critics gracing the small stage in December. But one of the strangest acts appearing must be Clementine, a hybrid human puppet. It’s cabaret, but with a difference.

Clementine is a 15-inch high fashion doll, like Barbie or Sindy, and lives just up the road in Hamley’s toy shop. She’s deigned the West End with her presence and has come down to screen a few of her home movies and sing a handful of musical classics like Sondheim’sLosing My Mind and a jazzy version of Jingle Bells.

In fact, like a true star, she does very little, and, like many pop princesses, she lip-synchs rather than sings live. It’s left to Clementine’s two assistants to liven up the proceedings with their more traditional puppeteering, and draw the action away from the glitzy Punch and Judy tent on stage. Bobby Pin (aka Mark Esaias), and Ruth Calkin are in charge of various puppets, and their retelling of Barry Manilow’s Copacabanais the highlight of the evening.  

And while these skits make for a pleasant hour, it feels like the team hasn’t quite found its audience yet. For the most part Clementine’s songs are played straight, and the humour is sometimes very innocent, and so when the smuttier parts of the show are revealed, they seem awkward and gratuitous. This clumsy juxtaposition is clearly seen in their mini-pantomime, Snow White, which is, sadly, very unfunny. 

The films, with their spoofs of 70s’ Christmas TV, are quite well made, and it’s disappointing that the same attention to detail, and the same offbeat comedy isn’t repeated in the live performance. Away from the films, Clementine does little more than sing, but it would be fun to hear more of her banter. 

Still, the show’s undemanding frothiness may be perfect for the Christmas season, and there are some genuinely funny moments, but let’s hope that when Clementine & Co return in the new year that they have cooked up something more substantial. 

Reviewed on 7 December 2019 

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