When economic woes and public milestones battle for the preoccupations of the populace, Britons could do much worse than coming to the cabaret. London enjoyed variety treats for every taste last week, running the gamut of moods from patriotic to regicidal.
In times of recession, you can trust the versatile ladies of The Folly Mixtures to lift your spirits with their many talents. In addition to terrific speciality numbers like Angie Sylvia’s multi-torch fire-swallowing routine and Ooh La Lou’s sparkling stunts with an angle grinder, the lascivious quintet brings the house down with their ensemble acts. On Wednesday, the dancers ventured into splosh territory with a skit involving milk, frosties and very little clothing. We won’t judge anyone’s fetishes (it’s a Soho show, after all), but such waste of food is most regrettable.
Mixture guest Edd Muir was nothing short of breathtaking on the Chinese pole. His James Bond tribute number is an acrobatic triumph of showmanship, effectively annulling gravity before your eyes. If this is the sort of gent employed by Her Majesty’s secret service, we can only toast to the Queen’s impeccable taste.
The second engagement of When Worlds Collide prolonged the royal festivities with “Kings versus Queens” for a theme on Thursday. Its box stage at the Vibe Bar was the setting for a “queen-off” between Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette (played by Kitten von Strumpet and Emerald Fontaine, making her delayed debut as part of the show’s regular ensemble after health problems kept her away from the première last month). Following the catfight was a “king-off” that pitched Elvis Presley against Freddie Mercury. Enacted by two fighters from wrestling show Lucha Britannia, the trans-Atlantic royal rumble made the room echo with loud slams and cartoonish threats. The winners? Marie and Freddie, boosting the morale of European tradition amidst the current economic malaise. The uplifting bill also featured Ginger Blush’s award-winning Elizabeth I parody and headliners EastEnd Cabaret.
Sunday marked the return of Tricity Vogue’s Ukulele Cabaret to the Albany Theatre in Deptford. As with its debut last October, the show’s climax filled the stage with the Albany All Stars, an ensemble comprising the participants of a pre-show ukulele workshop – more than 20 people at this time. Tap dancer Josephine Shaker, the only non-strumming performer in the programme, starred as a one-woman rhythm section for two acts, boasting sure moves and comic antics in an irreverent feel-good number. Uke fans and casual listeners of all ages were also treated to the tunes of Banjo Dez, Clare Uchima and the Dulwich Ukulele Club, an eight-piece band whose floor-stomping grooves and manic energy prove the ukulele can rock.
We’ve sent men into space, so surely sending a cabaret star to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe shouldn’t be that hard. If other venues were a bit quiet last Thursday, it was because much of London’s variety ranks flocked to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern for Myra Aid, a night filled wall-to-wall with luminaries raising funds for Myra DuBois. There were songs from Jamie Anderson, Jayde Adams and Fancy Chance, stand-up comedy from David Mills and Scott Capurro, and performance art from Spencer Wood, Dickie Beau and Alp Haydar‘s mother. Scottee appeared via video feed at the half-time interval. Anyone wanting to see Ms. DuBois’s show before she heads North to terrorise our Scottish cousins can catch a preview of her new production Aunty Myra’s Fun Show later this month. Stay tuned for more details.