Brighton Fringe 2015
In a busy fringe, lots of shows demand your attention. Full of glitter and sequins, The Hundred Watt Club delivers a gorgeous night of camp beauty ..
Harking back to the gin drenched halcyon days of a grimy Berlin nightclub in the 1930s, The Hundred Watt Club sparkles, fizzles, and shines brightly on a dark night. Presiding over it all is Dolly Rocket, a pithy diva for whom the term ‘statuesque’ is entirely appropriate. She slinks through proceedings with a healthy lack of respect for the great unwashed in the audience, more than once looking visibly irritated with the crowd. She gets a decent few songs to belt out, and any line about her having a decent pair of lungs would be cheap, inappropriate, and entirely accurate.
At times, she comes across as a riotous mix of Carmen Miranda and Amy Winehouse. There’s an old adage in theatre if a night is a bit of a challenge, and it’s that you should never – ever – blame the audience if it’s a bit of a tough night. There is, in addition, another adage, more grimly (un)spoken that, on occasion, you really can blame the damn audience. And it’s true that the crowd for this particular performance seemed a bit subdued, despite the performer’s best efforts to whip us into a frenzy. The show deserved a bigger audience, and part of the challenge was the space itself: The Old Market seemed a little cavernous, and the cabaret seating in front of the stage means that there’s a good portion of the audience who are put at something of a distance from the action. It means that there’s increased pressure on the acts to fill the space by sheer dint of personality.
One personality that certainly is big enough to fill the room is that of the local kid, the delicious Joe Black, riffing on classic cinema and making familiar songs dark – but not, as is pointed out, by changing any of the words: ‘They sing this to children,’ he protests in mock disbelief. There’s a kind of perverted rotten beauty to his act, and it’s pleasing to note that he’s got a couple of hosting duties coming up, as one imagines that would be a gig to which he would be magnificently well suited. We hope that he’s working on a full hour-long show: his dark seduction is pretty much worth the ticket price alone. Glory Pearl is a bright and breezy presence as a protesting harpy, while Dave The Bear is a hilarious boylesque who literally runs rings round – well, that’s it: he runs rings around his own behind. Jeanie Wishes delivers a cute burlesque out of a magical lamp, and there’s genuine charisma from Eliza Delight, cheekily hiding behind glorious fans of feathers.
A fun night, and it would be good to see The Hundred Watt Club as a much more regular fixture on the Brighton scene.