Brighton Fringe 2009
Voodoo Vaudeville Presents… After Midnight
Venue: Upstairs at Three and Ten
Voodoo Vaudeville have not had the easiest of times. Their rushed transfer to the Three and Ten after the collapse of the Sundown Show Bar has clearly hampered their act, which already suffers from a lack of organisation. That being said, the show is fantastically good fun, and what better to do at half-past midnight than indulge in weird, wacky, sexy cabaret fun?
The opening night of the Fringe was certainly a spectacle. This reviewer found himself toddling into the Three and Ten at midnight, where too many drinks were drunk before hauling myself upstairs for the half-past midnight showing of Voodoo Vaudeville’s newest show. I was hoping for a little light entertainment, something to ease the mind on the way to booze-addled sleep. What I got was bizarre, fascinating and entertaining, although terribly unorganised, which was sometimes refreshing, but often a little annoying.
This vaudeville troupe seems to pride itself on its anarchic bent: the stage was awash with colour, more often than not from a screen saying ‘Internet Connection Lost’, people pranced around the Three and Ten’s confines in fluffy, frilly outfits, and Chris Cresswell stood on stage, attempting to lead us along his road of multi-hued, acid-trip bricks. This was all intensely enjoyable at first: it gave you the freedom to enjoy joining in the show, as it felt more like a party than a performance. However, this initial enjoyment waned over time, and I found myself wishing for even the slightest semblance of control, just to streamline the evening, and allow the acts, most of whom were cut off, to perform their full sets. Now, I can understand that their act transferred from a larger venue, with a longer gig, but I find myself wondering whether this lack of control is artistic or practical. If there is any artistry to it, artistry that I do not understand, then the show began with it, but it faded over time. The end was particularly difficult: a burlesque routine that, while excellently performed, felt completely out of place, ran on for too long (compared to the other acts), and felt dangerously seedy in a venue as small and close as the Three and Ten.
The show, in total, is a remarkable product. It is fun, gaudy and exciting, audience participation is high and the awkwardness that usually entails is dealt with effectively and enjoyably. Chris Cresswell is an excellent compere, the acts all have their moments, and it is well worth your time and money in the wee hours of the morn. However, a touch of organisation, a small concession to a structure-needing public, would make this troupe outstanding.