Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Cabaret artist Le Gateau Chocolat entertains the audience with a range of songs, but lets us in to see the man behind the glitz.
With his deep bass voice and ample physique, Le Gateau Chocolat is a unique offering at this year’s fringe. A drag queen who has been influenced by such greats as Taylor Mac and Johnny Woo, he brings his own influences to the role and speaks to the audience of the difficulties of being a British born black Nigerian whose mother doesn’t know he’s gay or dresses in lycra and prances around at the Edinburgh Fringe. Although this revelation gets a laugh, there is a raw honesty in the delivery which betrays the conflict behind this double life.
It is this mixture of pathos and high energy singing which characterises the show. Interspersed with excellently sung covers of songs such as Creep by Radiohead and Madonna’s Holiday are Le Gateau’s reflections on life, love and what it means to be a man in drag. Although interesting and well delivered, at times these reflections seem a little clunky; they don’t seem to flow with the songs particularly well. On the occasions when he relates the song choice to his life it is much better and the show begins to gel.
Le Gateau is a very engaging performer, he has an easy banter with the crowd and on the night I saw the piece a very frightened Chinese lady in the front row became the focus of his gentle attentions. Onstage he is supported by a pianist and cellist who give a wonderful liveness and depth to the songs. He is also supported by his costumes! Introduced as a charcter in their own right, they are certainly one of the highlights of the show, with Le Gateau donning a seemingly endless stream of Lycra catsuits, and finishing with an incredibly flouncy rara dress complete with giant yellow ruff and Afro wig.
There is still work to do in getting the pace of the show right, and the list of trite witticisms he reels off, along the lines of ‘dance like no one’s watching’ ‘live like you’ll die tomorrow’, should go, as they are so overused they can only ever be referred to ironically. However, this was a highly enjoyable evening with an excellent group of musicians. So for feel-good singing and dancing with a heart, then head to the Bosco tent for a big slice of Gâteau this fringe.