Little Death Club at Underbelly Southbank Festival
Theatregoers may glean a little of what’s expected from this variety show from its name: “la petite mort” is a French term for the post-orgasm haze. Inspired by the Weimar Republic’s dens of iniquity, Little Death Club is a hazy, fantastical, bombastic world. “Mistress of chaos” Bernie Dieter sets the tone by sashaying onto stage in viciously studded stilettos, jet-black feathered epaulettes and rhinestones; she immediately hurls herself into the audience, entreating up to four men to caress her and each other. She then insists on being carried back up on to stage by her new admirers, which is hysterical. Dieter punctuates the show with her own original songs, such as the dulcet strains of Dick Pic and call to arms Lick My Pussy.
The array of talent on show is formidable. Beau Sargent is a contortionist and aerial display artist, showing off shocking but impressive flexibility. As he wafts past, he smells like fantasy. “Siren of South Yorkshire” Myra Dubois is a sharp, old-school drag queen. Spotting a man in the front row writing notes, she herself notes, “flip flops to the theatre, I should be reviewing you”. She then performs a captivating version of I Know Him So Well.
Fancy Chance provides a more hypnotic layer to the show, appearing on stage in diaphanous drapes and then suspends herself from her hair and swings around the tent. This is the dangerous art of hair hanging and spectators cannot take their eyes off the performer. As if that is not enough, she then gets naked. This is quite a spectacle, beautiful and dream like.
Le Mime Tipi is a mime artist suffering an existential crisis and pleads with a member of the audience to put him in a real box, much to his ecstasy. Kitty Bang Bang, in jewelled bikini, performs a spectacular fire show, drawing circles of flame in the air, setting her arms on fire and gargling flames. The deployment of flaming nipple tassles warrants a five-star review in itself.
Dieter ends the show with a gypsy stomp dedicated to her motorbike-riding Oma and alcohol, her collection of miscreants writhing around her. The backing band deserves a mention, as does the lighting, which truly creates a world far removed from the environs of Waterloo outside. Fancy Chance is seen after the show in leopard-print catsuit and gold hoops, swigging from a hip flask. Literally no one has ever looked cooler and we want to know more about this world. The show is delightfully hazardous, not least due to Myra’s sharp wit – no one wants to get on the wrong side of a show girl. Little Death Club is overwhelming in the best way.
Photos: Alistair Veryard Photography
Little Death Club is at Underbelly Southbank Festival from 18th April until 23rd June 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Little Death Club here: