Sexy Circus Sideshow succeeds in being sexy, and includes both circus and sideshow. However, it falls some way short of its potential. Host Paul Klaass does a competent job, warming up the audience effectively and confidently generating a positive atmosphere early on. While we are on his side and trust him to hold the show together, he does create certain barriers between himself and the audience, reading acts’ names off his phone on a clipboard, rather than learning them beforehand, and relentlessly plugging the other cabaret shows from the production team from the get-go, before we even know if we’re going to enjoy this one.
A trustworthy introduction to cabaret and sideshow
The main sideshow element was the first act, who deftly banged some nails into her face. Judging from the audience reaction, this was many people’s first foray into sideshow and served as an effective introduction that might cause some queasiness, but there wasn’t a dry heave in the house tonight. Next up was burlesquer Oblivion Westwood, whose creative performance and titillating costume will have memories harkening back to Conchita Wurst and Total Recall.
My favourite new act was the cheeky burlesque hooping styles of Anna Fisher, who gave an energetic hooping routine with novel moves that make her stand out from other hooping acts. Burlesquer Legs 11.11 performed an excellent Lucifer-themed straitjacket routine, boylesquer Flynn Vee a solid lip sync followed by fire-infused dance, and headlining fringe veteran Marquee de Saw treated us to her traditional ‘sawing’ vocals, complete with dashings of her show-making musical saw. No doubt this will be the standout memory of the show to anyone yet to experience the wonders of de Saw.
Klaass returned to close the show with a fiery climax that tied things together nicely. The show offers a range of decent quality performers and ticks all the boxes in its title, but would benefit from more variety and a host with prepared material to establish a rapport with the audience and who knows the acts well enough to recite their names, thus assuring the audience that they are in the hands of established pros. Nonetheless, this is a trustworthy introduction to cabaret and sideshow, though veteran audience members are unlikely to discover anything to write home about.