A recent convert to the world of burlesque and cabaret, I found myself at the Brighton Spiegeltent last week in awe of Veronica Blacklace’s ‘Showtime with Cabaret Boheme’. A seasoned Fringe performer and show curator, Ms Blacklace’s two-hour show opened with her own rendition of Adele’s ‘Hello’. Accompanied by the incredible Sasha Flexy, she was contorting around a raised hoop in the middle of the runway stage. The immense flexibility and skill during this performance, matched by the raw vocals, kicked off the night to an incredibly strong start.

Blacklace’s vocal counterpart, Chris, joined the mix afterwards with his fabulous gold clad dancers. The variety of the performances kept this night interesting with such a range of talents and skills. Throughout the show, Chris and Blacklace teamed up for renditions of ‘Roxanne’ and a tongue-in-cheek parody of ‘Talk Dirty To Me’. The range of their combined voices almost framed the show, weaving throughout it and keeping audience members engaged and intrigued, while amused at saucier lyrics than anyone was used to!

Another instance of the high level of expertise was Chi Chi Revolver, a professional hula-hoop artist commanding the attention of all with a high-octane circus-inspired routine. Seeing multiple hoops (at least ten!) whizzing around with such speed it seemed miraculous that Chi Chi barely moved. I know if I’d tried to juggle that many props they’d be very much on the floor before I’d even got them moving!

On to Blacklace’s protégées from her own burlesque class, we could see the high level of skill and practice that had gone into their section of the show. All dressed the same; the seven or so women on stage took on each move with grace and completely in sync with one another. A testament to Blacklace, the class showed that anyone could be involved in burlesque no matter their shape, size or experience. Performing to Grace’s ‘You Don’t Own Me’, the fierce independence of these women was clear from start to finish.

A very popular segment of the show was lead by a chap by the name of Esquire. Exploding onto the stage in cowboy gear, he performed a very sexual number with a can of beer as his prop. The liquid charging from splits in the can, there were more than a few ladies and gents going wild for Mr Esquire’s moves. Returning as a matador later in the show, one lucky lady was brought on stage from the audience to help Esquire’s next performance. Amazingly unfazed, his helper was even blindfolded as he tore off the remainder of his outfit. I think she got quite a welcome shock on removing her blindfold.

Choosing a couple in the audience, sitting just in front of me, Blacklace decided to ‘befriend’ them. The slightly older gentleman becoming victim to her cheeky innuendo, his wife seemed to find the whole thing hilarious. As did the rest of the audience!

Closing the show was the act I’d become quite excited about. Sasha Flexy returned to the stage for an aerial pole routine. Being fairly well versed in pole shows now, I’ve never seen something quite like the strength and control needed to orchestrate flying over an audience with no support but one’s own muscles. She inverted with incredible control, looking as if it was nothing to go from upright to upside down without even losing a breath. Mesmerising and beautiful, this closing act displayed the commitment and love of all of the performers’ arts.

www.veronicablacklace.com

Images from photosbydavid.org