Black Cat Cabaret | Comedy reviews, news & interviews
Black Cat Cabaret
New club opens in fabled venue
A new Friday-night cabaret club opens tomorrow at the fabled Café de Paris in London's Leicester Square. The Grade II-listed venue's subterranean ballroom, where Marlene Dietrich, Frank Sinatra and Noël Coward once performed, will be home to Black Cat Cabaret, a weekly show of music, comedy, striptease and magic.
Cabaret, and its close relation burlesque, is an artform that has undergone a rebirth in the past decade and, while critics may argue over what exactly defines cabaret, they at least agree that it's a suitably encompassing label for a gathering of acts with more than a touch of the louche about them. Cabaret is perhaps best described as variety for grown-ups, exemplified by acts such as Meow Meow, the Tiger Lillies and Frisky and Mannish.
Cabaret was first performed in late 19th-century Paris - hence Black Cat Cabaret's nod to Chat Noir, the famed Montmartre club - and its heyday was in interwar Paris and Berlin. It's fitting that Black Cat Cabaret takes place at Café de Paris, which opened in 1924 and was at the centre of London nightlife for decades. The performance space was modelled on the Titanic ballroom and this is where silent movie star Louise Brooks introduced the Charleston to London, and where 1930s international playboys such as the Prince of Wales and the Aga Khan were regulars.
In the UK, new themed clubs - where patrons are encouraged to dress the part if they wish - are opening, and each year at the Edinburgh Fringe cabaret and burlesque acts grow in number. Established troupes include Club Noir in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, and The Slippery Belle (in Manchester, Leeds and Huddersfield), while the London Burlesque Festival is running for the seventh year in May 2013. Perhaps the best-known new-style cabaret is Duckie, which started life more than a decade ago in the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, a south London gay pub, but which now devises cabaret-interactive theatre pieces seen across the UK.
The debut line-up at Black Cat Cabaret tomorrow includes Laurie Hagen, who performs “cabaret chansons and striptease in reverse”; mime artist David Armand; Laura London, a close-up magician; singer Dusty Limits is compere.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
The gloriously daft duo return
Likeable comic points out life's inanities
Surreal comic kicks off his West End run
Australian character comic's suburban fantasy
Comic at his poetic best
Observational comic with a cutting edge
Oi! Time has not withered the two legends' characters or catchphrases
Tears as well as laughter in a well-oiled stage memoir
The mega-popular stand-up's Happy & Glorious show is entertaining but not inspiring
Businesslike show from the Chatty Man
London run for the Edinburgh Comedy Award winner
Otherwise polished young stand-up gets irritated with the audience and stomps off