The Cabaret of Pottiness is usually a monthly event but has sprung itself on Camden for three nights, in honour of the Fringe festival. The atmosphere is relaxed, the audience getting up from their seats to get drinks during the show and the acts performing in different parts of the room.Still the first half, which to a quote a table fellow of mine “resembled more an open mic-night at a pub than a burlesque cabaret show”, was a bit too messy for my liking. Not until the second half of the two hours did the show pull itself together.
Going to a cabaret, you expect a certain amount of pizzazz so the acoustic opening act of the Nightingale Experience seemed an odd choice. They had served as background music mere minutes before as the audience walked in and, while there’s something to say for simplicity, jeans and a T-shirt just don’t cut it when contrasted with the other performers’ extravagant attire.The quick burlesque teaser was more a time-filler dance and confusing: with dancer Bettie Wishes in full burlesque-attire there was nothing for her big feather-fans to hide.
Things looked up with Gareth Nash, with his guitar and gorgeous voice, reminiscent of bluegrass and country. Though apologising for his novice guitar skills, he hit the nail on the head. His mention of how hard it was to play in the dark was, however, absolutely valid: in the absence of an actual stage, the performers were poorly lit and hard for many of the audience to see.
Cecilia Holmes was the next act, carrying on the party in fine style. Her songs were witty, at times touching and she has the big showbiz voice to belt them out. She played superbly to an audience who had finally started paying attention.
Bettie Wishes finally properly showed her skills in a feather-fanned striptease that was suitably mesmerizing before Cecilia and Gareth (this time in drag) returned as the duo Sugar ‘n’ Fags. Their act was introduced as a sped-up BabeStation, supposedly with naughty edge, but seeming just silly. Pianist Helen Gostosa brought the standard up once more with a beautiful collection of songs about love in its various forms. No sugar sweetness though: her lyrics are not for the faint-hearted but I thought they were brilliant.
Burlesque variety is an acquired taste and this was a mixed bag, however the pure enthusiasm of the performers tipped the scale for me.