Tag Archives: Hoxton Hall

Ms Paolini Phantasmagoria Cabaret
★★★

Hoxton Hall

Ms Paolini Phantasmagoria Cabaret

Ms Paolini Phantasmagoria Cabaret

Hoxton Hall

Reviewed – 26th July 2019

★★★

 

“Ms Paolini’s charming and comedic patter bestows a delightfully nonsensical quality on the evening”

 

I am very confused about my feelings on this show. On the one hand, the chaos and slap-dash feel seem to be deliberate – it might even be the whole point, and that being the case, it’s very effective. Not to sound intolerably pretentious, but it smacks a little of the Dada movement’s Cabaret Voltaire, which prided itself on chaos, anarchy and experimentation.

Ms Paolini herself is very endearing. Beginning the show in black bicycle shorts, net tights and a fascinator, she announces proudly, “I’m fifty two, I’m a woman, and I’m fine with that, thank you very much.” Moving from one digression to the next for the first twenty minutes or so, I genuinely have no idea what she’s talking about. But maybe that’s the point? Regardless, she has the audience on side, everyone trying desperately to follow what she’s saying.

She is joined on stage by her two co-hosts- a young woman sporting a corset and matching fascinator, and a gentleman in his fifties who starts off wearing a suit, but who quickly strips off to match the women (in a fashion) in tighty-whities, a vest, and a silk red tie. The three remain on stage throughout as a visible audience for the other performers.

The patchwork of acts includes some who are purposefully subverting the usual cabaret performance: Irie Feather, for example, conducts an incredibly depressing strip-tease whilst singing a very ropey version of ‘Feeling Good’. She then decides she’s not feeling that good actually, rips off her nipple tassels to reveal gaffer tape crosses, and proceeds to finger-paint herself black to a heavy rock accompaniment.

There are other acts, however, that aren’t quite subversive but just a bit mediocre. It’s hard to know whether this is a choice, to keep everything rough around the edges, to steer away from anything too polished – the show describes itself as “deconstructed cabaret” after all. But the final performance is multi-percussionist Beibei Wang whose act is very polished, and quite amazing to watch. The contrast in quality between her and some of the previous acts is a little stark…

Between the acts, however, Ms Paolini and her co-hosts maintain an absurdist quality, performing often inexplicably funny sketches – dressed in ballgowns, for example, sniffing around the stage to ‘Mission Impossible’ style music which occasionally cuts out, for them to wail, “I need a boyfriend!”

Regardless of the individual acts, Ms Paolini’s charming and comedic patter bestows a delightfully nonsensical quality on the evening, bringing together a family of misfits, where the audience feels more like a community. Granted this is by no means a traditional cabaret, but it doesn’t want to be. Expect plenty of provocation, explorations of the ridiculous, and a good dose of confusion.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Ms Paolini Phantasmagoria Cabaret

Hoxton Hall

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Oranges & Elephants | ★★★ | January 2018
Don Juan | ★★★★ | April 2018
Arabian Nights | ★★★★ | September 2018

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Arabian Nights – 4 Stars

Arabian

Arabian Nights

Hoxton Hall

Reviewed – 19th September 2018

★★★★

“Jonny Dixon’s superb puppets and masks feed our imagination and enhance this youthful yet enlightened production”

 

Iris Theatre presents a new, pertinent version of the ‘Arabian Nights’, turning Hoxton Hall into a wonderland of illusion. Rich colours, masks, puppets, dance and music blend and fuse with the narration to take us on a familiar journey, but down a different path. Nessah Muthy’s heartfelt rewriting of this centuries-old treasure adapts the framework of the story to show the strength and independent minds of women. King Shahryar finds revenge for his wife’s unfaithfulness by marrying a new wife every day and killing her the following morning. When he decides to marry Dunzayad, his young servant, her older sister, Sharazad, uses her gift of storytelling to buy time and save her. In doing so, she gradually sees behind the king’s brutal façade and challenges him, questioning her own feelings as well. Muthy also adds clever twists of gender within the tales, giving them a modern relevance.

Director, Daniel Winder, masterfully interprets the script with art and inspiration. Jonny Dixon’s superb puppets and masks feed our imagination and enhance this youthful yet enlightened production. The lighting (Ben Polya) and sound (Filipe Gomes) add magical and dramatic effects and a constant stream of additional details holds our attention – Amber Scarlett’s resourceful set design, evocative music and dance (Sonum Batra and Nour Alkawaja) and colourful costumes by Maddy Ross-Masson.

The well-chosen, multi-cultural cast poignantly reflects the rich origins of the ‘Arabian Nights’. The six actors cover a multitude of roles as well as manipulating the puppets with dexterity, allowing us to enjoy the fantasy. We not only hear of Ali Baba and Sinbad; brothers and sisters, princesses, husbands and wives, sailors, kings and queens and animals all play their part in recounting adventures, myths and morals. There are varied and vivid performances from Ikky Elyas and Maya Brittoa, Hemi Yeroham’s comic flair, Pravessh Rana’s powerful presence on stage, Izzy Jones’s portrayal as the spirited sister and a special mention for Sharon Singh as Sharazad, who elegantly holds the main plot together with the many narrative diversions.

The first half of the show takes a while to flow. Once we break through the slightly ‘theme park’ feel of the repetitive, pre-show piped music, the imitation stone of the set (from the audience’s close proximity) and the initial impact of the broad acting, we can appreciate the huge amount of thought, work and talent. It is neither a children’s show nor more suitable for adults; seemingly, it has something for everyone. And, at two and a half hours long, there is plenty of time to find it.

 

Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography by Ali Wright

 


Arabian Nights

Hoxton Hall until 13th October

 

Related
Previously reviewed at this venue
Oranges & Elephants | ★★★ | January 2018
Don Juan | ★★★★ | April 2018

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com