An atmosphere of fun and weimar cabaret beats envelop us as we enter Beauty at the Circus Hub. Setting the scene for what’s ahead, various performers are preparing for their upcoming performances – a mime perfecting his make up; an acrobat performing myofascial release; and Bernie Dieter weaving through the audience, casting a spell over us as she introduces herself to each person arriving. The raw honesty and vulnerability of performers warming up before us creates an intimacy and personification, a connection which prepares us for what is ahead.
All the key ingredients for great cabaret - silly, seductive, skilful and subversive
Cabaret is a specialism of this reviewer and there have been some lacklustre offerings in this genre this year. However everything about the weimar punk inspired Little Death Club fulfilled my eager and wanton cabaret appetites, and more. Bernie Dieter is intoxicating, cutting a seductive silhouette as the show starts. She dazzles in sequins and feathers, and captivates as she serenades us with a powerful, industrial tune which features a German chorus which translates as ‘I’m Gonna Sit on Your Face’. And she does!
Little Death Club contains all the key ingredients for great cabaret – it’s silly, seductive, skilful and subversive. Dieter has scoured the bars and back alleys of the world to bring us some of the best punks, freaks and weirdos to showcase their talents. As a compere she is formidable, and actually she’s so much more. With the accompaniment of her live band, ‘The Fear’, Dieter presents a fully original set of weimar inspired songs which are multi layered and have something to say about the world. They ooze female sexuality, humorous cultural observations and celebrate difference in a very overt and deliberate way which this reviewer adored.
The performers displayed a spectrum of talents, and interacted beautifully with Dieter. The order in which they were presented delivered a variety of tempo and pathos, with breathtaking skills and talent. I loved them all – and in particular the wondrous Kitty Bang Bang, the fire breathing bearded lady with a scorching burlesque routine. Pyrotechnics are tricky, and yet this act had been carefully crafted while retaining all the fiery abandon one adores from cabaret. Jess Love also enthralled us, with a somewhat reticent hoop routine. As the live band whipped the atmosphere into an uninhibited abandon, so too the hoop routine heightened as Love cascaded into a series of daring acrobatic routines – handstanding into hoops and splits through hoops, which the audience were enraptured with. The highlight for me was the wondrous, sublime Oliver Smith-Wellnitz, who performed the most beautiful, tender and passionate aerial routine. Performing movement in the most arousing and thought provoking way, to the backdrop of Dieter’s sexy, sultry German lilt, this was an indulgent and unbridled speculation on the nature of social construct, gender bending and all things subverse.
Dieter’s dynamic vocals, original songs, live band and sheer magnitude of stage presence had the whole audience bewitched. And there was a very real message about connecting together, breaking down barriers and stepping away from our screens. This Mistress of Mayhem and her merry band of dark, twisted and debauched acts achieved everything they came to do. A standing ovation by a mesmerised audience was evidence of this. An hour of filth, flair and verve from a voracious queen with a lust for life and huge propensity for gin. Lots of it!