And The Devil May Drag You Under

Unfortunately, I had slightly misled myself in preparation for this show. Having skimmed the brief catalogue description, eyeing up names such as Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer and Sarah Louise Young (Cabaret Whore), I wish I had taken a little longer to read it properly as I would have realised that these were their previous guests and certainly not the ones who were performing tonight.

Sadly, the debauchery we had been promised was not fulfilled.

Starting with a positive though, our host for the evening “the devil himself” Desmond O’Connor was quick witted, devilishly dirty-mouthed and not a bad singer at all. He charmed us with his well-timed anecdotes and his jokes were so perfectly smutty that he really did set the tone for an evening of debauchery.

Sadly, the debauchery we had been promised was not fulfilled. Elements of the show were great but they were overshadowed at times by awkward fumblings and forgotten lines that made you feel bad, as you were no longer laughing with the performers but, guiltily, at them.

The magician’s act was one such fumble, he appeared daunted by his audience and spent most of his time telling a very clichéd story about his encounter with the devil, which meant that he only had time to produce one actual trick which was again, not particularly interesting. The fact that the devil-compere then went on to plug the magician’s next Fringe show seemed inappropriate and burst any kind of bubble they had struggled to sustain around our foray into the underworld.

The first act to cavort onto the stage was entertaining in a sort of 'let's giggle at a half-naked man dancing in a church' kind of a way. This in itself was titillating and certainly got a good rise out of the crowd, but the act itself left much to be desired – unless you desired throwing plastic rings onto a turkey baster that was sticking out of somebody’s bottom.

There was just something not right about the show. The performers were charming and interacted well with the audience, dirty jokes and innuendos were in abundance – but when it came down to the skills these acts were supposedly showcasing, it let it down. Even the sassy grandmother, who could really hold a tune, ended up forgetting most of her lines in her penultimate number, which just made the whole thing a bit awkward; to repeat, the laughing at, rather than laughing with, scenario.

There was one act though, aside from the devil, who really did know what she was doing, it was just a shame that we had to wait right until the end to see her. Gracing the stage in true cabaret-style the final act was classy and sophisticated, which may be a bit of an oxymoron considering she was dancing about the stage in nothing but a corset and golden nipple tassels.

She knew how to capture an audience’s attention, none of the slapstick or improvisation that we had witnessed from her predecessors; this was a well refined, well-rehearsed piece of cabaret and I almost forgot to applaud through my rather large sigh of relief. 

Reviews by Bethan Troakes

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

Returning to the Brighton Fringe by popular demand, join the devil himself (Desmond O’Connor) as his band of performers, freshly plucked from purgatory, battle it out to save their souls or be thrust into eternal damnation. With previous guests including Frisky and Mannish, Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer, Sarah-Louise Young (Cabaret Whore) and musical legend Sxip Shirey, this show promises to be one hell of a highlight of the 2015 Fringe.

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