Vive Le Cabaret is a variety performance with a variety of class. Judging the show as a whole is difficult, because it is splintered into different acts, ranging from the brilliant to the embarrassing. As such, it seems only fair to discuss them individually.
The show was glued together by MC Desmond O’Connor, supposedly the ‘King of Cabaret’. His stage presence was appropriately pantomimic, but often crude. He filled the intervals with personal ditties such as ‘Cheap Shite White Wine’, but tonight's efforts rarely struck a chord with the audience. Altogether, O’Connor was upstaged by several of the acts.
East End Cabaret - a duo consisting of classic French seductress Bernadette Byrne and her personal freak Victor Victoria - topped the evening and arguably the pecking order. Their performance was refined, professional, and frankly hilarious. Their song ‘Danger Wank’ - an incitement to public indecency - will be in my head for days.
Half-comedian and half-magician Paul Dabek was also a highlight, and received the most enthusiastic applause during the curtain call. His humour was a bit too familiar at times - as, perhaps, was his magic - but he charmed the audience during his finale with a masterful finger puppet show played to the ‘Circle of Life’.
Dusty Limits was the third jewel in the cabaret crown, master of the cutting and camp persona. His first number - ‘Bored’, a pastiche of Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’ - was his best received, and temporarily undercut any faith you might have in your current relationship.
Unfortunately, the remainder of the acts were a mixture of the clichéd, the forgettable, and the downright poor. Magician Doug Segal lost the audience when he was rude to one of his volunteers, breaking one of the fundamental rules of showmanship. Meanwhile, Adriano Fettucini - a.k.a. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ - bemused the audience with an uncomfortable rendition of a kilted drunkard on a tricycle.
Mr B. The Gentleman Rhymer was one of the most famed performers, but his act was disappointing, relying too heavily upon a facile contrast between his upper-class persona and his imported ‘urban beats’. The lyrics were often too fast for the audience to catch, and not that impressive when they were. Altogether, one suspects that Mr B. has the shelf-life of the subculture he is associated with.
Rating a show such as this is difficult because you don’t want to drag the bad shows up nor the good shows down - which inevitably you do by deriving some sort of average. As such, the score should not be interpreted as reflecting any of the individual performers, but rather as a summation.