As one quarter of the amazing Pants Down Circus and one half of hit children’s show The Circus Firemen, Idris Stanton has absolutely earned the right to put his name above the title of this tribute to Vaudeville. Originally found in the music halls of the 1880’s until cinema essentially killed the artform in the 1930’s, Vaudeville was where you could see all the great (and many more of the not-so-great) performers of the day. Song and dance men rubbed shoulders with jugglers, comedians would be billed just before the burlesque dancers and at the centre there was always the emcee who would keep the audience interested as the sets were moved around in the background. All this has somewhat returned in the recent revival of cabaret but Stanton is looking to take us back to the flickering lights and sawdust floors of Vaudeville’s heyday.
Stanton deconstructs Vaudeville and filters it through his own perception.
As the emcee of this one-man show, Stanton deconstructs Vaudeville and filters it through his own perception. Stand-up comedy is blended with circus stunts and there’s elements of street performance there too. He’s likeable and perhaps even a bit too nice as he works the crowd; he comes across as wanting us to have a good time at any cost and anyone not doing so will feel the full force of his playful smile. There’s juggling and plate spinning alongside some excellent skits involving a willing volunteer and a tennis racquet that almost breaks me.
Stanton’s love of rock music is also a huge influence on this show and he spends the entire performance working towards a rock'n'roll finale worthy of Kiss (on a budget) and his final message of wanting to entertain without ever ‘punching down’ is a valuable lesson for many a comic act out there. He may not be the last king of Vaudeville we’ll ever see but this show rules.