–>Cabaret began as part of the 1930s German counterculture; it has always had a controversial tinge to it, an art that existed to question the status quo. So rather than worrying over ever increasing utility bills and the prospect of recession, why not escape, for an evening at least, to one of Miss Behave’s nights of Variety at the Roundhouse.
Featuring a line up that blends circus feats, ribald banter, aerial artifice and traditional musical cabaret, this line up of bite-sized, one act wonders is the perfect antidote to credit crunch doom and gloom. It may be light on satire and true subversive qualities but, if you are new to the neo-cabaret scene, this mish mash of performers – from the trapeze feats of the buff Rigger Boy to the amazing contortion skills of the impish Marjo from Montreal – will make you chuckle, gasp and forget Augusts grey skies.
Miss Behave, a sword swallower by trade, is your MC for the night, and she is impossible to ignore, trussed up in a seductive red PVC bodysuit, sauntering through the crowd, cracking jokes and wilting egos.
The only real clanger on the bill was physical theatre troupe Spy Monkey who were simply rank. Their first skit saw them parodying the flange-based gymnastics more commonly associated with Thai brothels. Their second outing involved the creation of a historical tableaux, complete with eyewatering, full-tackle nudity from the male ensemble, who were dressed as medieval guards. It was a cringe worthy stuff.
However Kalki the Hula Girl, who opened the show gyrating to Britney, got things off to a great start and was genuinely impressive, twirling a dizzying display of rings around her body.
New York import Bret Pfister was also memorable, with a powerfully gymnastic and suggestive act, his lithe body diving and twisting through an aerial hoop suspended from the rafters.
Part juggler, part prestigitateur Matt, Hennem and the Jacques Le Coq mime to his act, Liquid Crystal, was simple and beautiful, inviting the suspension of disbelief as he seemingly levitated a crystal ball.
Londons own Dusty Limits rustled up two decent numbers with the self penned Clash of Civilisations receiving whoops and hollers from the audience. Frank Sanazi, a Sinatra-Hilter hybrid, was too much for some punters, but others could not contain their laughter at the antics of this Facist cabaret star and his lampooning of Franks hits. Closing the show was Lucifire, a flame-haired seductrice who combines fire eating and burlesque, which makes for a risky combo.
Though something of a mixed bag, Variety Nighty makes for a fun, slightly leftfield evening out, but even though the interior of the Roundhouse auditorium has been redesigned to conjure the feel of a cabaret bar, complete with table service, it still feels too big, too cave-like, for this kind of performance, and something of the thrill that true cabaret can impart when watched in more intimate, less mainstream surroundings, is notable by its absence.