"The face is on!  The lashes are on as well.  Kind of.  No face is symmetrical but one lash always seems to have commitment issues."

“The face is on! The lashes are on as well. Kind of. No face is symmetrical but one lash always seems to have commitment issues.”

Producer and compere Reuben Kaye is one of the brightest spots on the London circuit (not least because of his acclaimed new show Cabaret des Distractions) but he has many admirers outside the capital. Last week saw him in Berlin but now he is off to the land of Abba, opera and Ikea for the Stockholm International Burlesque Festival. For This Is Cabaret, he has kindly (and exclusively) offered to share his thoughts with us. Feel free to catch up on Part One, Part TwoPart Three and Part Four before getting stuck into the latest episode.

Part Five

Time to get up.  It’s the final night of The Intetnational Stockholm Burlesque Festival. In my last post I apparently wrote that it was 2015.  This is a testament to how tired I am. That or the ketamine is finally kicking in.

I wake up and Natsumi and I go for a stroll through Stockholm.  Its impossible beautiful and the weather is perfect. We find a little farmers’ market where we browse the goods.  Mushrooms of every kind feature heavily, And they look fabulous.  Honey and pickles also pick up the slack but the real treat is the fish.  I have no idea what we had because every name in Swedish looks like a bad hand at Scrabble.  The mere attempt at pronouncing anything received a well-intentioned smile of pity and condescension.  Bloody Swedes, so smug just because they have a country that actually functions and people with clear complexions and thrilling TV programmes. We also find the best film noir covers for classic pieces of literature.

"Here's looking at you, Cathy.""Here's looking at you, Cathy."

“Here’s looking at you, Cathy.”

In a small book at the coffee shop, we found an indecipherable article about God knows what but the title was Bris and judging by the photo, the Swedish people have a slightly more casual approach than I was raised.  If this is a photo of a bris then someone is doing something wrong!

Whatever the Swedes mean by "Bris" probably isn't  what Reuben Kaye has in mind. Probably.

Whatever the Swedes mean by “Bris” probably isn’t what Reuben Kaye has in mind. Probably.

After eating our weight in mushrooms on toast, we pick up ice-cream and head back to the hotel where we decide to watch a movie before soundcheck.  The only movie I have on my laptop is Wit with Emma Thompson.  I heard it was a comedy so I put it on. It opens with Emma Thompson being diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer that has already metastasised and then goes downhill from there.  It is not the feel good, ice cream movie we had hoped for.  Half an hour in, Natsumi has fled and I am a bucket of tears, wailing into the tub of long melted organic burnt honey and bourbon vanilla ice cream.  My tears turn it salty, almost like salted caramel.  Can I market this flavour?  If I just watch movies about people being really brave through terminal illness I can probably get out a few pints per day.

It is now 5 and Natsumi and I head to soundcheck.  The venue is Nalen Ballroom, a venue I hosted NYE in for 2013/2014.  It’s beautiful. a stunningly adapted and preserved building.  This venue is Frauke’s and Bichard’s home venue and with good reason.  The main hall with the stage then two separate chambers with DJs and separate bars.

This last night is a big production! We run through the usual sound checks and Natsumi asks me if in her act I would sing over her track.  It’s a dark, swirling, hard, pumping goth-like (to my midlife class kind at least) track and me singing huge long classical passages over it. Well, it lets me live out all my Nightwish fantasies!  We run it and it works so it’s in!

We go and get ready.  I love this part about festivals.  The communal huddling over the makeup mirrors, the heat of the lamps and of the bodies.  The quiet tension, the eruptions of nervous giggles. The few perfomers who are blasé, the old pros. The newbies who are freaking out. It’s a timeless image that really is exactly like it is in the movies.  It’s a theatrical tradition. An integral part of performance.  I’m a sweater. By sweater, I don’t mean woollen, I mean I perspire but ladies perspire, I sweat. So in this environment putting make-up on is akin to shoring up a Kryolan mudslide and I have to work quickly and powder down to set the face before it all heads inexorably south for the winter.

The face is on!  The lashes are on as well.  Kind of.  No face is symmetrical but one lash always seems to have commitment issues. As if I bought the bi-polar set from Charles Fox, one lash is up and perky and one is slightly lacklustre and down in the mouth.  Everyone says they look fine but in my opinion I look like I’m permanently halfway into a misjudged wink.  It’s a fine line between bedroom eyes and having a stroke. Beginners to the stage!

You can follow the Stockholm Burlesque Festival on Facebook or their official site.

Reuben Kaye’s Stockholm Burlesque Festival Diary: Part One
Reuben Kaye’s Stockholm Burlesque Festival Diary: Part Two
Reuben Kaye’s Stockholm Burlesque Festival Diary: Part Three
Reuben Kaye’s Stockholm Burlesque Festival Diary: Part Four