sat 19/04/2014

Black Cat Cabaret | Comedy reviews, news & interviews

Black Cat Cabaret

New club opens in fabled venue

Laura London, a close-up magician Guilherme O'Connor © This Is Cabaret (www.thisiscabaret.com)

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.

More details on Black Cat Cabaret

The performance space was modelled on the Titanic ballroom

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