Black Cat Cabaret
Christmas in Leicester Square – Spiegeltent
Reviewed – 11th November 2017
“each is a short and quirky tour de force that tickles your palate and then vanishes before it overstays its welcome”
A drag queen, a sort of robot geisha and a man in a particular state of undress, to name a few, skulk amongst the audience. The tent is half-illuminated by the glow of soft lighting on the haze of smoke machines. Suddenly, the sound of a violin. Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, or his seedier brother, the violinist summons the performers to the stage. We are no longer in Leicester Square, but somehow in vintage Montmartre, ready for whatever titillation that the Black Cat Cabaret has in store for us.
The show comprises mostly standalone performances from a variety of performers, each bringing a new artistic discipline in a unique and often surprising way. To say too much of any one act would risk spoiling it, as each is a short and quirky tour de force that tickles your palate and then vanishes before it overstays its welcome. Some have subversive twists; others are spellbinding enough played straight. Each performer is clearly an expert in their craft, and it is fantastic to see the Black Cat Cabaret draw artists of this calibre to the heart of Leicester Square. You will have a favourite, though it may take you a while to decide who.
If one area of the show fails to maintain this very high standard, it is the compère, Dusty Limits. For all the humour and the androgyny, he risks being a little toothless. Picking on audience members between acts is done out of a sense of duty and quickly dropped, while his songs, despite being glorious in the moment, are not particularly memorable. He is, however, a charming presence on stage and a very efficient host. I just wonder if, in the interests of efficiency, Dusty Limits robs himself of the opportunity to truly let rip.
The Black Cat Cabaret is certainly an adult show, but shies away from risking causing offense; despite its apparent eroticism and naughtiness, the nudity is tasteful and the jokes inclusive. This is high-class cabaret at its most polished – so polished that, for better or for worse, some of the sleaze has rubbed off altogether. This is by no means a bad thing, though, if the emphasis is put where it should rightly be: on the quality of the acts themselves.
Reviewed by Matthew Wild
BLACK CAT CABARET
is at Christmas in Leicester Square until 31st December