REVIEW: Black Cat Bohemia (Underbelly Festival) ★★★★

The self proclaimed cabaret trailblazers of Black Cat Bohemia are taking up residence in the Spiegeltent at the Underbelly Festival on the Southbank. Offering a “wild night at the circus” with “new high skills” featuring “world-class acrobats, aerialistes, fire-breathers and other gloriously talented reprobates.” The show promises much and just about manages to deliver.

Laura Corcoran AKA Frisky of Frisky and Mannish is our MC for the evening. A bizarre mix of Ab Fab Jennifer Saunders with a hint of Rik Mayall, dressed by Tim Burton, her shtick is a little overblown and old fashioned for a show claiming to be “trailblazers” but she does keep the show moving briskly and deals with the challenge of losing a performer well.

The loss of “The Maestro”(in a beautiful purple velvet cat suit!) at the beginning of his act due to an accident just 10 minutes into the show, clearly created problems but the “show must go on” and the cast did well to cover the hole The Maestro clearly left.

The circus performers provided a good variety of exciting acts impressively delivered on the fairly small stage. To describe them all would take away the element of surprise for anyone planning to see the show. My favourites were LJ Marles and Nicolas Jelmoni as The Knaves, who brought some gentle humour and warmth to proceedings. Nicolas goes on to perform incredible death defying, bottom clenching (for the audience) acrobatic tricks with partner Charlotte O’Sullivan, a woman so bendy she must be 50% rubber and 50% pure muscle. She is quite astonishing.

LJ Marles’ solo performance is simply breathtaking and utterly beautiful.

The loss of The Maestro resulted in rather less of the amazing feats and rather too much of Frisky filling the gaps but it is obvious that at full strength this will be a real spectacle.

Reviewed by Lara Southworth


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