Cabaret Confidential at The Pheasantry
The most magical thing about applauded showcase Cabaret Confidential is that audiences don’t need to have a pre-existing expert knowledge of the performance style or even antecedent enthusiasm. Cabaret virgins can instantly enjoy this expert combination of musical talent and hilarious comedy, which has the wit and amusement of Flight of the Concords but with additional jazz sophistication.
Audacious host Jamie Anderson threaded the show together efficiently with his dominating stage presence and racy honesty. Amidst the daring banter, he also exhibited his singing abilities when he transformed Petula Clark’s hit Downtown into an ode to promiscuous dating apps, as part of night`s theme of love and relationships.
Opening female cabaret act Claire Hawkins opted for a cynical approach to the ubiquitous subject as she criticised the lack of integrity in modern society with Class from Chicago. Her undaunted frankness got the crowd roaring with laughter but, despite her pessimism, her theatrically trained vocals together with her expressive facial movements gave her a delightfully likeable, Disney-shaped personality.
Award-winning Celia Delaney’s take on love was more personal, as she reflected on the desperation of being a 40-something singleton. In a performance filled with dark comedy and vocalised in sultry and flirtatious jazz styles, her biggest achievement was her suggestively predatory and anger-fuelled interpretation of Adele lyrics to tell the story of internet dating, which propelled her concept to astounding heights.
Another interesting songwriting perspective was offered by pianist A Girl Called Fred, who imaginatively expressed her sympathy for the under-appreciated elves of Christmas in an inventive carol. She cleverly characterised herself as one of Santa’s little helpers, highlighting their disadvantages and adding humour with a fake German accent.
Crowd favourite Marianna Harlotta also used a foreign accent for comic effect, but it was her self-mockery of Eastern European ideals of discipline and stubbornness that was most enjoyable. Especially when she embarrassed and subordinated her violinist as an antithesis to orchestral etiquette. Her otherworldly soprano is an acquired taste, but it gave originality to distinguished classics I am the Walrus and Beat It, and her ignorant introductions worked wonders as repetitive punchlines.
Tonight`s show had the perfect balance. It had the saucy connotations we expect from the cabaret style, as well as gifted voices. Yet it was also combined with distinctive, talkative and hilarious personalities, and proved that not only is cabaret in good hands with the new crop, it’s as flexible as any other art form.
Matt Taylor Hobbs
For further information about Cabaret Confidential and future events visit here.