Photo credit: Rhinoa's Photography
So first, what is the concept behind Cabaret Roulette? Each show the audience picks a theme, the following show all the performers will have to create a brand new act that corresponds to what has been chosen for them. Sounds fun? It is. When compere Gemma Layton asks the crowd how many have been to one of their shows before the vast majority, it seems, have. I have too. I came to the very first one back in December 2012.
So how has the show grown and developed since it's debut? “Celebrity” is the inspiration for this evening, and tonight sees a mixed bill of burlesque, music, circus, dance and physical theatre. While the acts are a little rough around the edges in places – by the nature of not having been performed before – the audience is forgiving and very definitely up for it. Part of this is due to the great work by Layton who makes the evening so playful that the audience clearly want all of the acts to succeed. The interaction with stage manager Lilly Snatchdragon, an impressionable Thai immigrant hoping to tempt her British childhood hero Gary Glitter by wearing My Little Pony arm sleeves and a schoolgirl uniform, is at times comic genius. Layton's later sonnet about the royal family is wonderful and the whole evening trips along from the unexpected to the the outrageous in equal turns.
The show feels a bit shorter and definitely punchier than the first time I saw it. Two of the acts, Meth and Anna Lou Larkin, have returned. The latter's song on the accordion about a young women so desperate to connect with fame that she touches herself with a lock of David Cameron's hair, starts off in an appalling vein and gets rapidly worse. It is a piece of degenerative filth that mixes the macabre with the profane – and is consequently incredibly funny and the highlight of the evening. Fair warning: if you are of a sensitive disposition, this is not the show for you!
Towards the end of the show, Frank Sanazi and Vagina Ross (performed by Mysti Vine) sing a duet. This act is hard to describe, but I will try. A man dressed as Frank Sinatra, but looking like Hitler, makes tongue in cheek jokes about white supremacy while pulling a women who looks like Diana Ross, but is dressed like a vagina, around on roller-skates by a string while singing 60's show tunes. The end of the act sees Ross giving birth to twins. It's one of the things that makes the London cabaret scene such a vibrant place at the moment, when so often you can say with complete honesty: “I have definitely not seen anything like this before.”
Another highlight is Felicity Furore, whose ironic burlesque routine to the music from Austin Powers, is energetic, playful and ridiculous. Is ends suitably with the reveal of a thick ginger chest wig between her nipples. The act is an audience favourite. It seems clear by the end of the night that the artists who have embraced the theme the most, win the greatest approval. There's a comradely atmosphere between audience and performers that is striking and is rarely found to such an extent at other shows. While the whole thing is very silly, it's also very good fun and the intimate little stage setting of Madame Jojo's is a perfect venue for it.
The next show is “Guilty Pleasures” on April 9th, and “Villainy” follows in June. From what was on offer tonight, Cabaret Roulette seems to be firmly establishing itself as a quality night of indecent entertainment.
For more info: cabaretroulette.co.uk