Vaudevillains

Greeted by the eccentric theatre owner and a glamorous showgirl, the audience wander into a Pleasance Dome transformed especially for this one-off show into the elegant Empire Theatre, replete with carnivale-style proscenium arch, full-costume band and, most importantly, working bar. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Les Enfants Terribles’s exquisite world-class exclusive vaudeville extravaganza. On the bill this evening: the world’s greatest knife thrower (99% of the time), a marvelous mime, a bullet-catching magician, a ventriloquist whose dummy has a life of its own... and the worlds only Siamese triplet strip tease the Cerberus Sisters.The fabulous opening number, the catchy Tonight at the Empire which I can’t seem to stop humming, is interrupted by the backstage murder of Charlie the theatre owner and the usual programme is suspended while each of the acts takes it in turns to try to convince the audience they had no part in their slave-driving owner’s demise. In perfect rhyming couplets, Oliver Lansley is a scintillating compere for the evening and guides us through each of the acts with commanding stage presence. A uproarious impro in reaction to a phone going off in the audience didn’t quite make it into verse, but showed the deep control and understanding of the crowd - who were in stitches throughout - that underpins the production as a whole. Beautifully paced, the murder mystery framework gives the usual vaudeville format a deeper sense of motion and allows the magic, miming and freak-showing that is par for the course in vaudeville to take on new significance.While not exactly a challenging exploration of show-business exploitation, all the elements of a great show are present and correct and the level of detail and stagecraft from the misplaced lipstick on the triplets to the saxophone-playing surgeon is as inspiring as it is entertaining. Les Enfants are a force to be reckoned with.

Reviews by James T. Harding

Pleasance Courtyard

Creatives

★★
Bedlam Theatre

The Duck Pond

★★★★★

The Blurb

Les Enfants Terribles take over the Pleasance Dome for one night only with their brand new macabre musical extravaganza! The Empire music hall opens its doors as murder, mystery and mayhem combine in the festival's hottest ticket.