This Is Cabaret

This Is Cabaret is the only online publication dedicated entirely to London’s variety scene. Founded by experienced journalists who have covered cabaret, burlesque and circus for years, it is your number one destination to keep up with the overwhelming diversity of the world’s richest cabaret circuit.

The Sound Of Sinatra Saunters Back Into Town

Time to roll back the years as Ol’ Blue Eyes is back in town. Kind of.

His fans call him Francis Albert or The Chairman Of The Board but most know him as Frank Sinatra, the singer-cum-actor who mingled with politicians, mobsters and movie stars when not lending his voice to some of the most iconic tunes of the mid-twentieth century. Even these days, what karaoke night is complete without at last one (possibly not entirely sober) rendition of My Way or New York, New York?

Richard Shelton is an actor-cum-singer and something of a fan of the man whose mellifluous tones inspired many a modern crooner as well as the naming of a certain cartoon dog. He will be familiar to TV audiences as Emmerdale villain Dr Adam Forsythe and, as Sinatra, has appeared in the West End in the award-winning drama Rat Pack Confidential. On 5 and 6 June, he will be taking his Sinatra and Me show to Live At Zedel but before then he stopped by TIC Towers for a quick chat.


Your show “Sinatra and Me” examines 20 similarities between yourself and Frank Sinatra. Which did you find most surprising?

When I played Sinatra in Rat Pack Confidential, it was intriguing to learn that we were exactly the same size. When I put my hands and feet into his imprints on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and they fit identically, it was a great feeling and seeing they were made on my birthday was simply incredible! But when his tuxedo literally walked into my life and it fit as if tailor-made for me, it was just mind-blowing.
 

Richard Shelton As Young Sinatra
Richard Shelton as a child.
What attracted you to Frank Sinatra in the first place?

As you can see from this picture, I noticed a childhood resemblance between me and Frank Sinatra from when I was about six years old so was aware of him from a very young age. I grew up in a house where jazz and big band music was played all the time and when my father bought My Way on cassette in the 1970s, I played it more than he did, learning every phrase and nuance, even though I was only 14 years old. I just “got it”!

 

You’ve performed with Sinatra’s own band – will there be a live band at your Zedel show?

In some regards, yes!  I’m recording a new song called Sinatra and Me with a 16-piece big band in Studio A at East West Studios where Frank Sinatra recorded My Way and A Very Good Year. I’m bringing the recording with me and will sing to it so, in some ways, I’m bringing the very essence of Sinatra with me too.  One song is sung a capella recreating the moment when Sinatra sang to Ava Gardner over the Hollywood rooftops, so it’s a mixture of big-band and just me with some sensational recorded tracks.

 

 

Actors sometimes speak about finding a way into a character, for example through a particular physical or vocal characteristic or an item of clothing. What works for you?

Frank Sinatra had a very specific mouth embrasure and lip movement, which helps me find the shape of a sound. He also had a very groovy way of moving when singing. And of course steady eye contact at the right moment to evoke a certain emotion.

 

What do you think Sinatra would make of the modern world?

It’s impossible to know, of course, but my impression is that he’d advocate hard work over instant fame. He was from a time when singers learned their trade by performing night after night on the road, which is actually how I did it. To my mind, it’s the best and only way. As for modern day politics, he hated bigotry and discrimination so I think he’d have plenty to say about the state of the world.

 

You’ve had a long and strong connection with Sinatra. Do you have any plans for his music to be played at your funeral?

Well, not until you asked me that question! But seeing as you ask, perhaps, That’s Life. I completely get the lyric, “I’m riding high in April/shot down in May/but I ‘ain’t gonna let it get me down/because this fine old word keeps spinning around”. It perfectly sums up what a life in showbiz is all about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avU2aarQUiU

 

There’s a whole treasure trove of trivia around Sinatra. Do you have a favourite item of miscellany about the man?

I love the fact he had an elaborate train set in his house, which he’d play with for hours on end. It must have appealed to the kid in him, which is a lovely counterpoint to the iconic reputation he had globally as a singing superstar and Oscar winning actor.


You can see Richard Shelton at Brasserie Zedel’s Crazy Coqs on 5 and 6 June.


Meet Jesse Scott: A Man Who Stands On His Head, On A Trapeze

Having thrown off the old school trappings of ringmasters, animals and slapstick clowns, modern circus has grown in all kinds of thrilling directions. Driftwood, the latest production by Australian company Casus is a fine example of this, relying as it does on a small number of acrobats to portray an intriguing take on possibly the greatest riddle of all – human relationships.

The troupe’s first show Knee Deep was a worldwide hit and, with their current one appearing as part of the Underbelly Festival on the South Bank, we had a word with co-founder Jesse Scott. He has grown up living and breathing circus for as long as he can remember: he trained and toured with Flying Fruit company for 11 years and performed with Circa for three. His speciality involves doing an aerial feat which looks amazing and more than slightly crazy but we’ll let him describe how that came about.


The themes of both Knee Deep and Driftwood are quite abstract. Where did the ideas come from?

When we were creating the show, we looked at driftwood as a metaphor for human relationships: a piece of driftwood floats down a stream bumping into other pieces tangling itself then splitting apart again to continue on its journey. This is a lot like the people we encounter on our own journey through life; they shape who we are and the person we became. We wanted to explore this through our signature style of acrobatics. But like our other show Knee Deep, the theme is not the driving force and this means the audience can and does take away their own stories from the show.

 

Australia has given birth to a number of the finest modern circus troupes around. What makes Casus stand out from the crowd?

Joy, humility and honesty on stage and off. The most common thing I hear from the audience after they see one of our show is they saw the true joy of what we do and the real bond between performers. We are a human circus.

 

Driftwood - Jesse Scott Photo by Kate-Pardey This Is Cabaret Underbelly Festival
Driftwood – Jesse Scott Photo by Kate-Pardey Underbelly Festival

 

How did you get into circus?

I’ve been around circus since I was a baby growing up in a youth circus called The Flying Fruit Fly Circus. It’s the only thing I have ever done and to this day it is still my passion. Circus is constantly evolving and you need as a artist to keep up with the changing demand, pushing the limits of what your body can do and what the audience wants keeps me on my toes. It’s an exciting life.

 

“My head trainer chose me out of 70 kids, took me aside and made me stand on my head.
.”

 

Who are your circus inspirations?

The two creators of a wonderful Australian circus called Company 2 David Carberry and Chelsea McGuffin they have both been a massive influence and inspiration to me. They create amazing work and are amazing people.

 

How long did it take you to work out what you wanted to specialise in?

When I was 15, my head trainer chose me out of 70 kids and took me aside and made me stand on my head. At first, it was only for a minute at a time; over the next 5 months, that time increased to 30 minutes on my head. I didn’t know why he was making me do this until one day he pulled out a trapeze and told me to head stand on it. This became one of my speciality. To this day, I’m still unsure as to why he chose me but I’m very thankful he did.

 

“As corny as it may sound, we love each other.”

 

How did the core Casus crew come together?

Through a desire to make work that we had complete control over. We have always and will always create together. This is our strength and I believe you can see this on stage.

 

Why do you think you work so well as a troupe?

We are a family. We trust each other with our lives, lean on each other in crisis and everyday make each other laugh until our tummies hurt. As corny as it may sound, we love each other.


Driftwood will be appearing as part of the Underbelly Festival until 4 June. Read our review here.

Why Alternative Eurovision Is Better Than The Real Thing

Brexit, schmexit. This is London calling and it’s time to go all European again for just one weekend.

Last year, the UK gave Europe the middle finger and mooned it for good measure. For the 48% who voted to stay and (we suspect) the even higher proportion that like the bonkers affair that is Eurovision, this Saturday’s proceedings will be something of a salutary reminder of what we may be about to lose.

But, wait, what light over yonder window breaks? For it is the London Underbelly Festival and this Friday’s Alternative Eurovision is the sun. Or, at least, the Eurovision eve treat which for the last few years has given us a brilliant showcase of some of the finest musical comedy talent around. Only one will walk away with the coveted title of Alternative Eurovision 2017 but who will it be?

Produced in association with This Is Cabaret, the event will see Anna Greenwood (above) introduce a line-up packed with cabaret legends plus some intriguing new faces. The whole list can be seen on the Underbelly website but for here is an introduction to three of the confirmed acts and the countries they are representing.


Sarah-Louise Young (Scotland)

She may sound like an angel and look sweet and wholesome but beneath that charming exterior lies a pit of dark humour like you wouldn’t believe; her songs about one-night stands and babies (with Michael Roulston) are not for the faint-hearted. This year, she’ll be in the guise of a certain Scottish leader but watch her below as her alter ego La Poule Plombée, the knife-wielding French depressive with a voice you feel that you may literally die for, here she pointedly poses a question on the lips many on the opposite side of the Channel may well be asking.

 

Desmond O’Connor (England)

A demon on the ukulele and a staple of the London variety scene, this singer/songwriter is witty as all hell and is willing to go where few dare to tread. He has written a number of musicals – we loved Royal Vauxhall, about the night that Freddy Mercury, Kenny Everett and Princess Diana went for a night out at the famed South London gay pub – as well as the perfect tribute to Prince and Victoria Wood. Here he is with a past Alternative Eurovision entry which tells the tale of one of this country’s most (in)famous couples.

 

Frank Sanazi (Germany)

How funny is Frank? Sometimes, his gags win awards even when other people say them. This cunning blend of Der Führer and the Chairman Of The Board returns to Alternative Eurovision to represent the Fatherland with another laid-back lounge number. Here’s a taster of what to expect.
http://www.thisiscabaret.com/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=ucp

See you there!

Alternative Eurovision is produced by The Producers UK in association with This Is Cabaret. More information and tickets can be purchased on the official Underbelly website.

“I Went Out One Night And It Lasted Three Years”

Controversialist. Anti-drag queen. Philosopher king. David Hoyle has been called all these things but who is he really?

Now that we are neck-deep in drag queens on our screens, it is not unusual for the mainstream media to label any cross-dresser with a novel angle as “original” but there has been no-one quite like David Hoyle for decades. A new photobook by Holly Revell gives us new and refreshing insights into one of the truly seminal drag performers around.

Very little about Hoyle can be described as conventional. Born in Blackpool in 1962, he was bullied for being gay and had a mental breakdown when he was just 14. Hoyle moved into performance and, by his early thirties, had built up a following as The Divine David, a controversialist who kicked out against the middle classes, the “materialistic-hedonistic gay scene” and that which he considered heteronormative. Over the Nineties, he found new platforms for his acerbic character, appearing on the BBC’s Comedy Nation and in two star vehicles for Channel 4 (The Divine David Presents and The Divine David Heals). Here he is from that era, giving some tourists insight into London “history”.

By the end of the decade, fame took its toll and Hoyle had another mental breakdown. He returned to television in 2005, appearing in Channel 4’s Charlie Brooker comedy Nathan Barley alongside Richard Ayoade, Julian Barratt and Ben Whishaw. Since then, he has directed and acted in feature film Uncle David, represented the Avant-Garde Alliance Party in 2010’s general election, and had weekly residencies at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. He has also been in a number of one-off shows like Unplugged at Soho for which he performed a superb version of this modern classic.

Getting past the façade to see the man beneath was never going to be easy but, for her new book David Hoyle: Parallel Universe, Holly Revell has explored many aspects of this fascinating and provocative artist who has been called cabaret’s philosopher king. Over the last eight years, she has photographed him at various events both on and off stage and has compiled over 300 of the pictures into an eye-opening study of someone who is arguably this generation’s finest drag queen. Revell, who is crowdfunding funds towards this book, has also added over 25 textual artworks created by her subject specifically for this project.  Check out the illustrative examples for an idea of what to expect and see Hoyle himself later this month.

David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell
David Hoyle: Parallel Universe by Holly Revell

More information on the photobook can be found here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hollyrevell/david-hoyle-parallel-universe-a-photobook-by-holly

The Return Of Richard Carpenter: Matthew Floyd Jones Brings Us Close To Seventies Icon

The Seventies were a great era for music and don’t let anyone tell you different. The antics and the music of the Beatles and the Stones were filling the newspapers and the stadiums. Rod Stewart and the Bay City Rollers were rocking the tartan look and no-one cared how history would judge their eye-watering fashion choices. Everyone and their grandmothers were busy getting high to Led Zep, having themselves a Ballroom Blitz, disco dancing all night long or all three.

For the pop kids of all ages, the brother-and-sister duo The Carpenters were manna from heaven, releasing ballad after ballad like bullets straight to the heart. The combination of composer Richard’s musical genius and Karen’s poignant vocals meant that their hits like Close To You were the ones playing when 1970s kids got to first base, second base, third base or, for a few lucky souls, a home run.

As is too often the case in the biz that is show, the Carpenters’ phenomenal success ended tragically. Richard’s drug addiction led him to checking into rehab in 1979 and four years later Karen died of heart failure, no doubt aggravated by her anorexia. RIP special K, the music world still misses you.

Scroll forward to 2017 and we now have a chance to see those seminal siblings through fresh eyes. Matthew Floyd Jones is a familiar face to cabaret crowds as the piano-pounding one in the hilarious Frisky and Mannish as well as his disturbing alter ego Ruth Less, winner of the Double R Club’s Miss Twin Peaks award. Described as “a razor-sharp tragicomedy”, his new show, Richard Carpenter Is Close To You, is touring the UK until the end of July. Here is what he had to say to Gemma Hirst about it all.


Why choose now to do a show about Richard Carpenter?

Because it hasn’t been done yet and, if anyone’s going to do it, it may as well be me! I mean, who else knows as much as I do about being the geeky fair-haired male piano player in a duo with a truly brilliant female singer? That’s right, no one. Except Richard. My kindred. It feels like he’s a totally perfect subject for me to explore.

Your show Richard Carpenter’s Close To You looks like a lot of fun but there was a dark side to Richard, not least his well-documented past with depression and a drug addiction. Will part of the show focus on his troubled side?

It’s not a conventional fact-based biopic, by any means. I know an awful lot about the real Carpenters, and the piece is informed by that knowledge. But it takes off from that reality runway and goes on a flight of fancy through the sky of my own imagination. I think of it like that film The Queen: we don’t know exactly what she thought, said and did, but we’re damn interested in making a good guess!

Which modern songwriters or singers do you think Richard Carpenter has most inspired?

When all these entertainers – from Paul McCartney and Madonna to Stereophonics and Shania Twain – identify Carpenters as an influence, they specifically mean Karen’s voice. It was so distinctive that it came to represent their entire legacy, and Richard’s considerable contributions don’t have a similar iconic quality that makes them an easy reference. But it’s been said that he directly influenced the rise of the power ballad with his inclusion of a fuzz guitar solo on Goodbye to Love, and that’s a pretty sexy epitaph to have stored up.

For audiences who were not born in the 1960s who may have not heard of The Carpenters, will it still be relevant and accessible to all generations?

I’ve written my own pastiches songs inspired by Carpenters, so I think there are extra layers of fun to be had if you are familiar with the originals. But the most incredible thing about their music is that it is both dated, and yet somehow timeless. Corny, but beautiful. And it seems everyone recognises at least one song. Plus, it’s not a music gig – it’s a piece of theatre with a narrative and characters and highs and lows, so the story will carry even the most uninitiated Carpenters novice through to the end!

Were there any aspects of Richard Carpenter’s life or repertoire that you really wanted to include but have been missed out for whatever reason?

No, everything’s pretty much on the table, and nothing’s off limits as far as I’m concerned. But I’m not focusing on the “obvious” dramatic elements of their story – his drug addiction and her anorexia. For me, there’s a subtler but no less harrowing psychological subtext to the whole thing. But it’s a comedy – I promise!

You are one half of a cabaret duo Frisky and Mannish, how much of the Mannish stage persona is informed by Richard Carpenter?

I can’t really say Mannish is in any way directly based on Richard; I can only say that the man who plays him grew up with Richard as his first significant musical influence. My parents had a few Carpenters records in the house, and my best friend at primary school was a big Carpenters fan. I remember this six-year-old girl singing little fragments of their songs at me in the playground, and then me going home and trying to find where they were from. Listening to those lush musical arrangements by myself, without the pressure of having to pretend I thought it was too cheesy, informed my early love of twelve-part double-tracked harmonies and prominent oboe solos.

Speaking of Frisky and Mannish and can we expect anything from them in the future?

You can expect whatever you like, darling, and I won’t ruin it for you with anything as hateful as facts. In all seriousness, though, we’re not actively working together at the time of writing this – we don’t even live in the same country anymore! We’re enjoying being friends, which is a beautiful thing and one that can get easily swamped by the other stuff, and we’re enjoying other creative avenues that will only make it even better if and when we reunite for one of those O2 Arena comeback gigs where Frisky’s in a top from Dorothy Perkins and a feathered mum bob and I’ve got a bit of a beer gut and a greying beard.


Matthew Floyd Jones will be getting Close To Richard Carpenter here:

Brighton Fringe (The Warren) – 5-6 & 28-29 May
Birmingham (Old Joint Stock) – 18 May
Leeds (The HUB) – 16 June
Offbeat Festival Oxford (Old Fire Station) – 26 June
Greater Manchester Fringe (King’s Arms) – 5 July
Bristol (Wardrobe Theatre) – 28-29 July
Great Yorkshire Fringe (Shed) – 30 July

For full information, get, um, Close To the official website.

The Black Cat Cabaret Returns For Underbelly Festival

One of London’s finest cabaret companies returns with another epic show for the Underbelly festival.

The South Bank will once again hear the purring of the London Cabaret Award-winning Black Cat Cabaret crew this year as, for the fourth consecutive year, they put on a summer extravaganza of variety thrills. Some of the world’s biggest names in circus, musical comedy and burlesque will take to the Underbelly stage from Friday 20 May until the end of September.  Having put on shows in some of the West End’s swankiest joints (not least the Pigalle Club, Cafe de Paris and Hotel Cafe Royal), this show will happen in a setting that combines theatre-style seating with the thrill of the big top.

The 2017 summer run will feature Black Cat Cabaret’s original, “after-hours Montmartre” show, which is returning for the first time since 2014. Inspired by the heyday of Parisian cabaret culture, the superb cast will once again be led by compere Dusty Limits. Check out the images below for a flavour of what to expect. Tickets can be bought and more information sought from the official Underbelly website.

The award-winning Black Cat Cabaret crew. Image: Black Cat Cabaret
The award-winning Black Cat Cabaret crew. Image: Black Cat Cabaret
Ace juggler Florian Brooks. Image: Black Cat Cabaret
Ace juggler Florian Brooks. Image: Black Cat Cabaret

Billie Rae. Image: Gilles Rammant
Billie Rae. Image: Gilles Rammant
Nathan & Isis. Image: Black Cat Cabaret
Nathan & Isis. Image: Black Cat Cabaret

The official Underbelly website is packed with information on all their other shows.

Soho Estates Change Their Mind: New Madame Jojo’s Will Be “Something Very Different”

 

Soho Estates have announced that, when the scaffolding around the Madame Jojo’s venue eventually comes down next year, there will be “something very different”.

John James, MD of Soho Estates and Paul Raymond’s son-in-law, exclusively filled us in on the details. “Look, I’ll be honest. When we originally shuttered the place in 2015, we were secretly hoping to turn the whole block into something the area was crying out for: swanky apartments privately sold in roubles or riyads, another hummus restaurant, a sex offender community centre disguised as a sex toy emporium and a cashpoint that charged you either an arm or a leg to take your own money out.”

James has had second thoughts, though. “We brought in a firm of analysts to look at the area and right away they saw a hole in the market. It was staring us in the face the whole time yet we couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Sometimes it takes highly paid consultants with zero in the way of sartorial imagination to point out the bleeding obvious.”

The report by R. Soles favoured a commercial opportunity which had emerged over the last few years and which Soho Estates is keen to capitalise on. James continued, “the consultants pointed out that a number of LGBT venues had closed down and we all know the gays love a singsong and a bit of the old cross-dressing. There are so few places around now that the poor fellows are now resorting to using phone apps like Grindr to find love and companionship.

“Thankfully, so many of our local competitors are going to the wall that, when we get round to finally opening Jojo’s as a cabaret nightclub, it will be something of a novelty in Soho. And where better than a venue which used to have great variety, drag and burlesque nights before it became an expensive and dark drinking den with occasional stage entertainment.”

The new Madame Jojo’s is scheduled to open in 2018.

Who Are The UK’s Top 20 Burlesque Performers?

Industry website 21st Century Burlesque has revealed the results of its latest annual opinion poll sponsored by Sublime Boudoir and announced the top 50 burlesque performers in the world as voted for by their peers and members of the public.

While the final results reflect the site’s largely American readership, extra lists have been produced which reflect how the international artistes fared in their own country. As identified by the site, below are the top twenty  performers from or based in the UK.

1. Betsy Rose (global #12, last year UK #8, above)

2. Vicky Butterfly (global #14, last year UK #2)

3. Velma Von Bon Bon (global #24, last year UK #9)

4. Reuben Kaye (global #32, last year UK #10)

5. Rubyyy Jones (global #35, last year UK #4)

6. Kitty Bang Bang (global # 40, last year UK #3)

7. Lolo Brow (global #42, last year UK #13)

8. Lou Safire (global #43, last year UK #7)

9. Havana Hurricane (global #46, last year UK #5)

10. Cece Sinclair (last year UK #14)

11. Bettsie Bon Bon (last year UK #19)

12. Polly Rae (last year UK #6)

13. Lady Wildflower (last year UK #15)

14. Lilly Snatchdragon (last year UK #11)

15. Felicity Furore (N/A)

16. Aurora Galore (last year UK #1)

17. Tom Harlow (N/A)

18. Eliza DeLite (last year UK #16)

19. Amber Topaz (N/A)

20. Raven Noir (N/A)

Congratulations to Betsy Rose, one-third of the Gin House Burlesque troupe alongside Missy Fatale and Jolie Papillon. Ranking twelfth overall in the 2016 global rankings, she takes over the UK top spot from Aurora Galore who has fallen to #16; the latter may have been affected by her online meltdown to our review of her show Glamorous Weirdo.

Lolo Brow, winner of the top prize at the inaugural Burlesque Awards is joined in the latest poll by her Family Fierce comrade Lilly Snatchdragon. Miss Brow, who delivered our annual Alternative Christmas Message, is one of the fastest climbers up the poll alongside singer and compere Reuben Kaye (who can be seen from this week hosting Seven Sins at Cafe de Paris), his Seven Sins co-star Bettsie Bon Bon, Between The Sheets performer and producer Polly Rae and acrobatic clown Velma Von Bon Bon.

New faces for 2016 include Felicity Furore (part of the House of Q who return with a new show on 18 January), Scottish boylesquer Tom Harlow, Northern songbird Amber Topaz and performer and Burlesque Noir producer Raven Noir.

Image: Franco Milazzo

 

 

January’s Craziest Circus Shows In London

If you’re in the capital this month,  you’re perfectly placed to see one of these fabulous circus shows.

 

La Soiree

The double Olivier Award-winning variety show is coming to the run of its latest run in London, the city where it first began. You have until Saturday to check out a company which includes amazing acrobats The English Gents, hilarious contortionist Captain Frodo, high-heeled trapeze artist Jarred Dewey before it leaves its spiritual home.

The final show is on January 8 and more information can be found on the official website. Meantime, here is what Hamish McCann, one half of the Gents, gets up to on the Chinese pole.


Bianco

NoFit State’s Bianco is a unique circus show which is less about sit-and-watch, more about stand-and-gawp. To the sound of a live band, the audience are led around the big top as numerous spectacular acts happen in front, around and above them.

Bianco runs until 22 January on the South Bank and more information can be found on the official website. Here is a taster of their show from their New York run in May 2016.


Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna

The biggest brand name in modern circus touches down again at the Royal Albert Hall with an updated version of their 2016 extravaganza. Loosely inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Amaluna’s storyline revolves around a group of men who, during a storm, find themselves washed up on an island governed by goddesses. Unsurprisingly, love and acrobatics ensue. The show is notable for having a cast that is 70% female.

Amaluna runs from 12 January through to 26 February and more information can be found on the official website. Here is the official trailer.


Becoming Shades

This year’s Vaults Festival features Chivaree Circus who bring their debut show Becoming Shades to one of most exciting performance spaces around under Waterloo station. A re-imagining of the classic myth of Persephone told through contemporary circus, this London-based troupe take inspiration from the words of James Joyce for a production which brings together live music, aerial acrobatics, fire, dance and mime, Becoming Shades is a story of empowerment, love and choices.

The show runs from 25-29 January and more information can be found on the official website. Here is the official trailer.

West London Cabaret Venue The Aeronaut Gutted After NYE Blaze

West Acton cabaret venue The Aeronaut was ablaze last night just half an hour after partygoers saw in the New Year.

The “Circus Spectacular” show featured compere Ria Lina and performers fire burlesquer Aurora Galore, comedy music act Rayguns Look Real Enough, clown Dmitri Hatton and circus artistes Jess Love, Le Renn, Silver Lining’s Niamh O’Reilly and Angeliki Nikolakaki.

Around 340 revellers and 12 staff fled the Aeronaut when the alarm was raised. Online footage obtained by the BBC and The Mirror shows the venue alight as over 70 members of the London Fire Brigade tackled the flames. The LFB rescued six people from a first-floor flat above the pub; the neighbouring police station was evacuated too. Three police officers who assisted in tackling the fire are being treated for smoke inhalation. The London Ambulance Service said it took five patients to hospital suffering from ‘minor injuries’.

The venue has been seriously damaged. An LFB spokesman said, “Half of the ground floor of the building is alight. The first and second floors, including the roof of the three-storey building, have been gutted by the fire.” The blaze was finally brought under control by 5am.

The cause of  the fire is not yet known. The police have said the cause was not believed to be suspicious while the LFB have said it was unknown.

Matt Blair (son of TV celebrity Lionel and part of musical act Rayguns Look Real Enough) wrote on Twitter about the night’s events.

According to The Metro, Blair said that he had heard that ‘some idiot’ used a candle to light a branch on a Christmas tree but he was unable to verify this.

Image: @AbdulYusuf