Laid Bare Cabaret

Reviewer's Rating

Cabaret should always showcase an eclectic range of talent and Laid Bare does just that. The difficulty lies in presenting the acts as part of a cohesive overall performance, with a consistent atmosphere. Tonight we jolt from Vicky Butterfly’s gorgeous burlesque to Gracie Parcelle’s cruise ship crooning. The clumsy transition is partly down to the mediocre compere and partly down to the singer’s awkward, cutesy ramblings between songs.

What happened to having an on-stage persona? Was the director sightseeing at the cathedral during rehearsals or just having a few pints round the corner? They certainly weren’t at the sound check – I strain to hear the music – or organising transitions between acts.

From cruise ship to Camden town, Paul Incredible gives hypnotic displays of crystal manipulation and pyrotechnics. Anyone fancy getting me a flaming hula hoop for Christmas?

The serious competition to Vicky Butterfly’s headline act are the aerial duo Miss Active Cherry and Miss Velvet Fox. Once again, there are technical difficulties – setting up the aerial display leads to a polite but evidently jumbled ad lib dialogue between the techies and the compere. It feels like we’re at a rehearsal. The act itself is fantastic. Both women have stage personas (as chimney sweeps, then Cherry’s solo as a glittery blue sprite-like character), great costumes and establish a storyline for their performance. Their strength, flexibility and elegance is captivating.

Vicky Butterfly is enchanting. First she gives a traditional burlesque dance, with quivering feathers and glittery nipple tassels. Her second performance, though, is the highlight of the evening. She brings a contemporary twist to the dance with an electronic cigarette and a stunning light display as she dances to Sail, by AWOLNATION. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Despite some cool magic tricks, Sam Beedle is a dismal compere. He fails to raise much enthusiasm from the crowd, and, perhaps because he is so desperate for us to applaud, has the audience about as energetic as a sloth. Because of the uncomfortable atmosphere, Laid Bare is not so much a cabaret as a string of very good performances that don’t cohere.