Central London has been deprived of a venue that regularly hosts nights filled with Cabaret and Magic for some time. That has changed with the opening of a brand new venue on Haymarket specifically designed to bring you both in abundance.
Chastity Belt knows how to work a crowd, deliver a song with her remarkable voice and possesses a wicked sense of humour
On arrival you are quickly shown to your seat/table in a venue that seats around 100. This is the perfect number for a night such as this, as it means the bars and servers are not being swamped, whilst giving you the chance to get to know each other a little bit throughout the night.
Some of the more outlandish members of the audience may practically become a character in the show. Around the room are peppered throwbacks to magicians of yesteryear. At one end of the venue is the main stage. The stage itself is lower than the audience but every seat seemed to give a good view of the action. Across the front of the stage are two creaky red curtains that have to be clumsily tied back by the stage managers whenever they open. The two main hosts, and several other performers, did venture out into the room, among the audience, for a more intimate feel to proceedings.
On Press Night we were joined by two hugely charismatic hosts. Desmond O’Connor was able to weave an intriguing sense of mystery, with a little twinkle in his eye and a funny aside. He was out-performed, however, by his co-host. Chastity Belt knows how to work a crowd, deliver a song with her remarkable voice and possesses a wicked sense of humour to boot. They were the perfect hosts for an event such as this and knew how to play off the audience.
There were various cabaret acts throughout the evening, including a eyebrow-raising routine from the enigmatic sword-swallower Snookie Mono. Tara Talland was literally suspended by her hair, above a quickly-emptied table in the middle of the room. However, it was the hilarious Abi Collins who won the audience’s hearts with a truly delightful hula hooping comedy set involving the assistance of a somewhat willing audience member.
The magicians were the true stars of the show and at the press night we had four different acts to enjoy, including the close-up talents of Fay Presto who went around the tables during the various breaks in proceedings. Mostly these breaks existed to allow glasses to be refilled, but was also a great opportunity for Fay to show off her skills. As yours truly is someone that used to specialise in close-up magic I relished the opportunity to see a master at work. The muggles at my table were left astounded by her routine, and her tricks with bottles were extraordinarily well done.
Billy the Kid was the first magician to take to the main stage and she was great at engaging with her audience. Marc Oberon came across as the more accomplished of all the acts. His mind-reading tricks came one after the other at us with such hurtling speed that it became ridiculously impressive. His opening routine with the levitating cane was also a joy to behold. The evening was rounded off by The Matricks. They brought out the expensive set pieces to recreate some of the more well-known stunts. Although each trick was impressive, I felt this act did lack some of the charisma of the more established performers that had been on-stage before them.
Overall the whole evening was a delight to attend and will hopefully stick around for a long time to amaze and entertain revellers for night after night.