The Double R Club continue their “Summer Of Unease” tour by stepping out of the light and into the dark of the London Wonderground’s Spiegeltent.
Don’t imagine you’re in for a night of feathers and frivolity; the Double R Club proudly present the darker side of cabaret taking inspiration from the world of auteur David Lynch. The dark interior of the Spiegeltent on the Southbank is a perfect venue for all things sinister and this latest instance of the award-winning show is filled with highlights that refuses to let you know what’s coming next.
The night kicks off with a weird half-lit musical number from aberrant host, Benjamin Louche. His effortless banter with the crowd, calmly deflecting hecklers, calling for applause and nodding to in jokes for those who have seen the show previously – marks him out as a great compere.
If the night started a little weird it rapidly descends into really quite deranged. The opening act Blanche Dubois appears as a near-naked reanimated corpse wrapped up in cling-film dancing while mouthing the words to a Portishead number. It’s a great moment in cabaret when you think to yourself: “What the hell am I watching now?” Traumata takes it one step further by pulling out a series of needles from her forehead leaving trails of blood dripping down across her chest and onto the stage.
The first half comes to a close with Laurie Hagen performing her award-winning backwards strip-tease. It is not a new routine by any means. There’s video of it online from last year but the 2D version doesn’t do justice to seeing Hagen perform her reverse burlesque live. Her movements are those of a dancer, precise and perfect and it is so convincing one can only imagine she spent months watching a video in reverse to choreograph the movements. It sounds like a simple idea, but it could so easily fall flat without the consummate skill to pull it off. This is a magnificent burlesque act which is easily worth the price of admission alone.
The second half gets a lift with Rosie Rowlands performing an aerial act that is distorted and full of purposely awkward shapes. Coming after the interval, its timing is perfect and it elevates the show to another level. Final act Snake Fervor lights vapour trails of fire across her body, eats burning torches and breathes huge flames that can be felt at the back of the audience. Her confidence is a true marvel and the routine always feels like it’s building up to something bigger and bigger.
There certainly doesn’t feel like there is any major weak point throughout the show. One criticism would be of the naked dancers covered in blood; they feel out of place, the gore bringing to mind Quentin Tarantino more than the psychodrama of Lynch. Fake blood isn’t shocking anymore; we’ve grown up in a jaded age and the real stuff earlier.
The Double R Club has won Best Ongoing Production at the London Cabaret Awards for the last two years. Believe the hype. Those faint of heart be warned: this is the product of disturbed minds.
The Double R Club. Hosted by Benjamin Louche. London Wonderground, Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX. 12 July. 9.15pm. £16-£220.50. The Double R Club’s Facebook Page
The Double R Club returns for their second and final date at the London Wonderground on 2 August. More information here.
Photo credits: Sin Bozkurt