Le Gateau Chocolat: Black

Le Gateau Chocolat is an experienced and highly talented performer, with several successful cabaret shows under his belt. With Black, he has created a show that explores his autobiography and the issues he has had to - and still does - face. He has set out to ‘highlight the apparent differences between you and me but expatiating on the elements that unite us’, and he has achieved this aim with skill, humour, and elegance.

Black is an important show. It delves into issues like homophobia, abusive relationships, and depression, and pitches this perfectly throughout, an all too rare phenomenon.

The show is wonderfully varied, maintaining Le Gateau Chocolat’s cabaret style and giving him the opportunity to utilise his experience to its full potential. He begins with an aria from Wagner’s Tannhäuser. While I am not suitably knowledgeable on the subject to pass judgement on the finer points of opera singing, his voice is stunning, and the raw emotion so readily expressed by opera shines through. Even those who are unfamiliar with opera are sure to be entranced from the very beginning.

His later songs are from a wide range of genres, and intercut by animations, voice-overs and - in the truly devastating moments - quiet monologues delivered by the performer. He delves deep into what it has meant to him to be black and overweight, to be different in many ways. This is at times heart-wrenching - he sings Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody in such a way that it tears at your heartstrings. However, what makes Black so entirely wonderful is its refusal to resign itself to an ultra-serious, gloomy piece. This show is very funny, making it all the more watchable, and therefore all the more powerful. Le Gateau Chocolat and co-writer/director Ed Burnside become masters of the audience’s emotions. Every element of this show is perfectly done and polished, from sound to the beautifully made and nostalgic animation by Mark Charlton, Little Black. This cartoon tells you the performer’s life story in a way that demonstrates its injustice without preaching or shouting. Likewise, the sections entitled ‘Tips for the Fat’ make you laugh at their truth whilst planting the seed of further thought.

Black is an important show. It delves into issues like homophobia, abusive relationships, and depression, and pitches this perfectly throughout, an all too rare phenomenon. Moreover, it doesn’t leave on a sad or happy note - it presents the facts in a wonderful and highly enjoyable manner and then leaves its audience to think on it. The fact of being black is reflected on all of us, as the fact of being different, or unjustly treated. Le Gateau Chocolat writes in his programme that ‘we are all human first and have all been Black at some point’. In Black, he demonstrates this with heart, humour and soul, and creates a unique and articulate piece that all should see.

Reviews by Laurie Kilmurry

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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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The Blurb

Le Gateau Chocolat has a story to tell... Featuring a repertoire ranging from Wagner to Whitney Houston, Black is an intimate and confessional portrait of Nigerian singer Le Gateau Chocolat's life; his hopes, his fears and his battle with depression. The cabaret legend has performed on major stages all over the world, including Sydney Opera House, Menier Chocolate Factory, Royal Opera House, and Glyndebourne Opera as well as giving showstopping performances at La Clique and La Soiree. 'Entertaining yet intimate ... destined for greatness' **** (WhatsOnStage.com). 'The biggest voice in town' (Time Out).

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