Perhaps it is the presence of a large number of ‘Vive Virgins’ but MC Desmond O’ Connor enters to what he describes as ‘a tense silence’. Still, he rises to the challenge and has the audience clapping along in just his first number.
The current version of ‘Vive Le Cabaret’ offers both classic and radically new interpretations of cabaret. Some are more successful than others. The comedians are amusing but not much more. ‘Impressive Johnston’ is pretty much a one-joke act; namely that he lives up to his title in only one way – and it isn’t his poor dancing. The anecdotes of skinhead and former wrestler ‘Will Hodgson’ about his liberal attitudes and hobby of collecting ‘My Little Pony’ memorabilia are endearing but not that funny.
‘The Kitsch Kats’ are a versatile dance duo capable of spicing up a samba with strategically placed pizza boxes or interpreting work in call centres as a Bob Fosse inspired number.
The perfectly named ‘Legs Malone’ brings an authentic taste of burlesque. Entering drenched in scarlet lighting in a raincoat like one of Raymond Chandler’s dames her classic and splendid strip routine gradually reveals a woman looking like she has stepped out of a Betty Page illustration. In a startling reversal of expectations her second number involves putting clothes on; well, a certain type of clothing.
‘Preacher’ continues the surprises with a twist on the old fairground sideshow fire eater/geek act. He spits out yards of fire, hammers nails into his face and stands barefoot on broken glass. This is all played out to pounding heavy rock music so that his ‘hells angel’ persona is perfect even though a definite break from the norm.
Paul Dabek returns to the classic approach with magic tricks whose apparent simplicity makes them all the harder to achieve. Handkerchiefs change colour and ropes alter their length and split and entwine while in plain sight. He brings the cabaret to a charming conclusion with a shadow play version of the animal kingdom.
With acts that are both audacious and respectful ‘Vive le Cabaret’ continues to challenge and entertain audiences.