Review: The Cave of the Golden Calf
6 August, 2007 - 20:18 — Vivien Devlin
Status: 5 Star
Venue: Assembly Universal Arts
Company: Golden Calf
Running time: 90mins
Performers: Empress Stah, Marni Rice, Scottee, Ryan Styles, Suppositori Spelling, La Celine, Andrew Brown
Willcommen, Bienvenue, Welcome to the Cabaret, 21st century style - sexy, sophisticated, classy and deliciously camp. The genre of cabaret, created as avant garde, risqué adult entertainment in Paris in the 1890s, has always been about pushing the boundaries of taste and decency from naughty but nice to the daringly decadent. This show takes us on a journey through the past century from Montmartre, Weimar Berlin and Soho nightclubs, English Music Hall to the underworld of grotesque burlesque, striptease and drag queens.
The original Cave of the Golden Calf was a Bohemian Soho nightclub, founded by the legendary socialite Frida Strindberg in 1912, inspired by the Kaberett Fledermaus of her native Vienna. Arts and theatre entrepreneur Andrew Brown revitalised the Cave for the Fringe festival in 2005 and 2006, featuring a unique showcase of music, comedy, mime and exotic burlesque performances. The Cave is back this year in the dark and intimate space of the Mysterious Theatre with its private bar, downstairs at Assembly's new venue in Freemason's Hall.
As always the line up of star turns is a diverse and eclectic mix, hand picked from the cabaret circuit of London, New York, Australia and San Francisco. As always the debonair Andrew Brown takes the role of MC, in his scarlet smoking jacket and tartan trews. The mood and tempo begins soft and slowly as mime artiste Ryan Styles - described as the new Charlie Chaplin - delights us with his moving performance as a clown with a pregnant bump, ballooning his way in a gentle waltz across the stage. His sad face crumples in despair and then gradually smiles in heart shaped happiness.
A shift up gear next with La Celine who captures the spirit of Edwardian London Music Hall as Naughty Nancy, the working class cockney girl in her feather hat and lace bloomers, as proud as a Duchess. Later on, La Celine transforms into the tough-talking Fraulein Fritz, carousing and schmoozing the gentlemen in the audience. This lady is a natural comedienne and character actress par excellence.
The musical star of the show is Marni Rice, accordionist, French chanson singer and rock chick from New York. In red fishnet stockings and black boots she sings Kurt Weill's love song Nanna's Lied with passion and panache, instantly creating the atmosphere of a smoky Weimar Berlin nightclub. Any moment you think Sally Bowles will walk on stage. The beautiful, cool and sassy Marni also sings like Edith Piaf and performs her own raunchy rock ballads.
From laid back entertainment we hit the hard stuff. It's Burlesque time with exotic, erotic trapeze artist Empress Stah with her cheeky Hello Sailor! acrobatic routine and later shows off more performance art skills as she reveals all in a wickedly witty gold sequined finale. At the start the MC has promised a late night show of "balloons and pricks." Balloons of all shapes and sizes are blown up and burst.
Now enter Suppositori Spelling, the stunningly glamorous 6 ft drag queen from San Francisco. Dressed in blue satin and big hair she sings, she lip synchs, she dances, she prances - picture Madonna on speed. And to a fabulous neo-classical track by Loop Station, "Last time I saw you I nearly drank myself to death," her outrageous Mermaid sketch is one of the many highlights of the night.
Since its debut on the Fringe in 2005, the Cave of the Golden Calf has matured and developed with style, confidence and professionalism. This year's extravaganza of utterly unique cabaret performances is sensational. So make your way to Venue 7, get yourself a strong drink, and enjoy 90 minutes of cool, crazy, camp adult entertainment to end your Fringe day with a bang.
Times: 2- 26 August, 10.30pm