Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Bongo Club Cabaret
Venue: The Bongo Club, 37 Holyrood Road
Cabaret Theatre is a notoriously difficult thing to get right. Too many places have fallen to the idea that the supposed atmosphere of smoky fugue and peeling wallpaper allow you to be in some way amateurish. Not so with the Bongo Club Cabaret, which doesn’t even have any peeling wallpaper, and since the smoking ban, would have to get its fugue from a machine. Instead, what you have is a very accomplished and confident evening.
Of course, the very nature of Cabaret means that there’s something different every night, but on the quality of their opening night, they’re in for a very strong Fringe, and the surroundings of the club itself lets you know you’re in a place full of atmosphere and wit, the sort of place that, by the time you leave, convinces you that you’re smarter, funnier, and sexier than you felt when you went in.
Cabaret is often only as strong as the compere taking you by the hand, and the Bongo has a formidable foil in Dusty Limits, a smart, funny and gently bitchy rake of a man who gets the audience on side by delivering a appropriately vicious song on the types of acts you’re likely to take in at the Fringe. He may pout and drop acid comments, but you’re always aware that as Master of Ceremonies, he is the audience’s friend. You cheerfully suspect, however, that if you were drunk/silly enough to cross swords with him, he could well destroy you.
Throw in some great acts promoting their own shows (we’re particularly fond of The Dog Eared Collective, and The New ArtClub – the latter coming across as Flight Of The Conchords meets The Mighty Boosh) and a gorgeous, playful burlesque in Vendetta Vain, and you have a very pleasing hour and quarter on the Fringe; the type that we don’t appear to get so much of these days. ‘We are old school’, Dusty proudly confirms at one point, and asks us ‘It’s all wonderful and gorgeous, don’t you think?’ Well, since you asked: It really is. Both wonderful, and gorgeous.