Brighton Fringe 2009
A 1940s vintage cabaret with style, panache, and glamour, perfectly suited to the venue. The premise is that we are on board a flight travelling to a host of exotic locations, each one represented by an act, mainly in the style of the era with a few delicious diversions. This cabaret is slick, stylish and suitably saucy, with beautifully selected acts that are classy, skilled and highly entertaining.
We are welcomed into the world of the Aviator Club by dishevelled hostesses drinking gin, (The Trollied Dollies), who let us know exactly where the emergency exits are and suitably demonstrate the brace position. The band, or ‘Air Crew’ (Top Shelf Jazz) arrive late, clambering through the audience. Then, our Captain appears, the divine and devil tongued Dusty Limits, who takes charge of the flight by asking us ‘to return our stewardesses to the upright position’. It’s a slightly slow and meandering beginning but don’t be deceived, we’re just being eased in gently… (Not one of Dusty’s innuendo’s but its easy to be influenced by the tone of the evening).
Soon we are being treated to a feast of delights There is dynamic dance of all shapes and forms from the Bees Knees, Josephine Shaker, Hilde Canoodt, and Sasha Khan. The enchanting Anna, The Pocket Rocket, entertains with her highly skilled hula hooping and later makes another appearance as a Russian ballerina in a beautiful static trapeze routine. There is a jaw dropping rope act by Alex Poulter, hilarious magic from Piff (Jack Dee in a dragon suit?), and stylish magic from Stand Not Amazed. Sharon Elizabeth sings a heartbreaking Piaf song and Top Shelf Jazz amuse and delight throughout with their music and costume changes.
This cabaret is glamorous, stylish and fabulously fun, but it isn’t just the glitz that makes it a good show. Dusty Limits is a charming and sublimely wicked host and also a very talented singer and dancer, (a perfect candidate for the role of the Emcee in ‘Cabaret’). Indeed, all the performers are highly accomplished with genuinely entertaining and skilled speciality acts. These acts have been well selected and well programmed. There are several points where different performers and acts are combined, for example the ‘dance off’ between the Bees Knees and Josephine Shaker. These moments, along with the 1940’s flying theme, give the whole piece an ensemble feel and pull the show together. Attention has been paid to detail, particularly in terms of costume and style. It looks beautiful, and is of the era with a few suitable contemporary twists.
The Spiegletent wasn’t full but there was a respectable turn out for an early show on a Tuesday night. I felt it took a while for the audience to warm up, first of all literally, because it was a particularly cold night, but also in terms of initial response. This may have been influenced by the fact it was an earlier show and because we were sitting in rows, which felt a little formal for this type of performance. Cabaret tables would help create a livelier, party atmosphere (although I expect there are a hundred and one health and safety reasons to prevent this). However by the end it was evident from the applause, that the audience had undoubtedly enjoyed themselves.
What would really heat up the atmosphere would be for the Spiegletent to be packed to the rafters, so get down there. If this weather continues wear several jumpers, and pile on the scarves. You won’t look glamorous, but the cast of the Aviator Club have an abundance of style and talent to make up for it.