Wednesday November 11th 2015
Royal Vauxhall Tavern, London
This week saw the exciting celebration of one London cabaret’s most beloved shows: Cabaret Roulette; a very exciting monthly show with an exciting and innovative format. Varied performers are booked a few months in advance and then, two months before their show, the Cabaret Roulette live audience vote on themes which have been nominated through social media and then the artists have two months to create new work to debut at the show, held at the newly listed Royal Vauxhall Tavern. The show’s creator and executive producer, Canadian import Vivacity Bliss, fills each show with performers from all corners of cabaret: clown, burlesque, puppetry, dance, drag and beyond and the result is a diverse, dynamic monthly showcase of brilliant ideas, bold personalities and best shots. This show was a celebration of the show’s third birthday and was an evening filled with some of the favourite acts from each of the year’s events and with themes like: cult, Bill Murray, nostalgia and secrets, I knew it was going to be an electric showcase!
Cabaret Roulette’s third birthday was hosted by their only resident performer, word smith and filth monger Anna Lou Larkin. Launching the evening with a hilarious, personalised rendition of “Be Our Guest’ the faithful audience, fans really, were already in stitches and ready for a raucous night lead by this wild and wacky compere. Anna Lou was the perfect host for the evening, energetic, dynamic and passionate about the show and it’s ethos, her wit, musings and focus kept the show steady as it bobbed through the many themes, levels and genres. The lovely Lou Safire, award winning boy/burlesque and sideshow performer, decked out in gorgeous goth mermaid finery, was to be our sassy stage mistress and Anna Lou’s right hand. Together they were a perfect pair.
The first guest was Dom Mattos from the ‘Nostalgia’ show with a montage of pop music through the ages, delivered in a gorgeous counter tenor. Dom was dragged, powdered and dressed head to toe in purple, ruffles and crystals with a big plume woven into her blonde curly hair. With oodles of energy, a slick sense of humour and an impressive vocal range, Dom bounced between classic and modern songs with aplomb and polished poise.
Next up, from the ‘Secrets’ show, performance legend Marnie Scarlet brought her neo burlesque exploration of the Jabberwocky. Decked out in custom and creative regalia which Marnie is renowned for, this time a handmade latex jumpsuit, with hood and surprise accruements was revealed after she stripped off a fascinating construction of latex gloves which covered her and created a wonderful imaging of just what the Jabberwocky was: a creature of mythical origins and familiar fantasy. A sumptuous, highly visual performance, supported by an exciting soundtrack interwoven with recitation of that iconic and beloved verse. Another fascinating and thrilling performance from the marvellous Marnie Scarlet.
I followed Marnie with my act from the ‘Nightmares’ show, a piece of political performance which is the first in my triptych ‘Hidden Womyyyn’ and uses the iconic “And I’m Telling You” from Dream Girls and lip sync to explore the life of a woman in a situation of domestic abuse. Joe Morose was up next with an act from the ‘Power’ show with a strip and reverse strip, exploring the ever changing face of fascism and the leaders of countries and parties who charm the masses with the same charisma and bold confidence Joe brought to this piece. Closing act two was Felicity Furore from the ‘Bill Murray’ show with a Slimer striptease—she controversially boycotted the theme and went with something kind of six degrees of separation—which was gorgeously green and glittering gooey fun! During the interval we were all treated to delicious cupcakes made by the fair hand of ballerina drag queen, Ragina, a Cabaret Roulette favourite, which were delivered by CR family Ruth Elizabeth Young and Katy Jones who both looked beautiful as ever.
The second act brought another bunch of beautiful and powerful performers to stage, the first being drag artist Michael Twaits with his spoken word sound off about social media persona vs artistic practice from the ‘Corruption’ show. I’m a big fan of Michael and his work, always have been, and I adored this thoughtful, provocative and pointed piece, it had something for everyone and no one, including Twaits themselves, were safe from this examination of artists in a modern scene. Tiffany Diamanté, another drag artiste, was next with a ballad of devotion from the ‘Cult’ show. With smooth, soaring vocals and a funny twist it was a glittering and wonderful act from a bright, young performer.
Up next was another brilliant burlesque babe, Lilly Snatchdragon, with a neo piece from ‘Corruption’ expressing the chains and stereotypes of Asian women in Western society and their depictions. With the bold soundtrack of ‘To JK, from Cho Chang’ a spoken word piece by Rachel Rostad, re-recorded in one of Lilly’s voices. An already interesting and thoughtful piece of prose was paired with pointed stripping and strong physicality with the assistance of Lou Safire. It was wonderful to see Lilly push beyond her comedy roots and explore a more dramatic dynamic; this is the magic of Cabaret Roulette, bringing challenges to artists and giving artists space to try new things and explore their politic in new exciting ways.
The penultimate act of the show was the legendary, the lovely, the radiant Red Sarah, bringing some Zuul realness with a fiery and red hot act from the ‘Bill Murray’ show. Controlled, captivating and charismatic, the act was the epitome of poise, power and presence, all the things I want to see during a fire show and all the marks of a true pro. It was amazing to see Red Sarah live, I haven’t witnessed her brilliance in ages and it was just a treat to see her amongst so many others I adore. Speaking of adoration, Kiki Lovechild, the clown healer was up next from the ‘Power’ show with audience participation piece which was silly, witty and heart warming. Kiki is definitely a CR favourite and his many fans were laughing till they were crying with his literal romp through ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. It had so many ‘YES!’ moments that at the end I felt gleeful and totally spent. It was an incredible show, with so much talent, so many thoughts, so much variety that I felt confident that this is a show we will see continue for many years to come. A vital part of the London scene, a unique space for artists and their ideas, a show brimming with chance, misses and triumph’s, Vivacity Bliss’s Cabaret Roulette is not to be missed and continues to go from strength to strength. Happy Birthdayyy Cabaret Roulette!