by Bernie Byrnes (no relation)
Last night, fresh from their Australia tour, EastEnd Cabaret hosted Club Perverts in the fabulous Spiegeltent at the Southbank Centre amid a line-up of dependably excellent cabaret stalwarts and a vibe that had a distinctly Edinburgh Fringe Festival feel. To start with, the show went up late – not because there were any wanky technical hitches but because the company had to scrabble around to find about 100 extra seats for the capacity ticket sales. It’s always exciting when a show is busy and the audience were buzzing as they lolled about on the fake dodgem cars and waltzers that acted as seating. Once inside the atmosphere cranked up a notch as Bernadette Byrne licked people’s faces and Victor/Victoria wandered around serving drinks to their Kickstarter angels who have funded their CD (now on sale). The album is appropriately called Perverts and includes such titles as Accidental Anal, Golden Showers of Tokyo and Tiny Sex Robot.
This award-winning double act has recently been named ‘Best Musical Variety Act’ at the 2015 London Cabaret Awards and it’s not hard to see why. They host this show with all the cheek, glamour and charm required to ensure an excellent Friday night out. It’s not easy presiding over a drunken, rowdy audience in a Victorian music hall but these two pull it off with the skill and command of a couple of upmarket madams. At first it felt like they were slightly dwarfed by their surroundings but it didn’t take long for them to hit their stride and rule the room.
The already summer feel was further embroidered by their first act, comedian David Mills, who treated us to what very much felt like his Edinburgh warm-up show. The debonair Mr Mills has plenty to say about Scottish independence and I have no doubt he will go down a storm at his Festival show David Mills: Don’t Get Any Ideas at the Voodoo Rooms, 17.15, 8th – 30th August (Free). Worth it for his excellent Cher gag alone!
The second guest was Gypsy Wood who arrived in the guise of Miss Teen, South Carolina 2007. I felt like if you’re going to say you’re from South Carolina you should at least attempt a Southern accent and I was also disappointed that she looked like she would just be another vaguely comic strip tease. In true pageant style we heard her hopes and dreams for a better future and world peace before she launches into her ‘talent’ of interpretive dance. By this point I was fully expecting not to like this act but I was wrong. Very wrong. I won’t give away any spoilers but this was one of the funniest and truly subversive cabaret acts that I have seen in quite a while. Brava.
Next up was Ursula Martinez with her brief but intriguing Light my Fire. She is an original cast member of the contemporary circus/cabaret phenomena La Clique, which was where I first saw her and really enjoyed her act. I have to admit I didn’t really get Light My Fire. Now an established international artist, regularly supported by the British Council, Martinez continues to produce live performance for site-specific, installation and nightclubs, so she’s got to be saying something important with her work. However, whatever that something is, it was totally lost on me….
The final guest of the night was the inimitable Le Gateau Chocolat. This cabaret legend has performed on major stages all over the world and was here promoting his Edinburgh show Le Gateau Chocolat: Black at Assembly Hall, 16.50, 6th – 30th August. Featuring a repertoire ranging from Wagner and Purcell to Nina Simone and Whitney Houston, Black is an intimate and confessional portrait of Nigerian singer Le Gateau Chocolat’s life: his hopes, his fears and his battle with depression. If his performance last night was anything to go by, the show will be a knock-out. But Friday night is no time for fears or depression and Le Gateau, magnificent as always, got the whole tent up and dancing.
By now the evening was getting hazy – the late running of the show, the easy access bar – the atmosphere of bonhomie was kicking in. By the time EastEnd Cabaret came back on and sang Drinking Song, the audience were delighted to furnish them with a standing ovation and well deserved raucous applause. The evening eventually ended only after they had sung DangerWank as an encore and received another enthusiastic standing ovation.
There was nothing unexpected or dangerous about Club Perverts, but neither did there need to be. Sometimes you just want to see a dependably good cabaret show on a Friday night and this was most definitely that. Jolly good show!