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Voodoo Revue

Friday, 19 August, 2011

As The Tin Says: Variety

Edinburgh – The Voodoo Rooms – 3-28 August 2011– 2010 (1hr 10)

The point of most of these mixed line up events at the Fringe is to allow performers to promote their own individual shows and so hopefully draw in more punters. When a night like this in a beautiful venue which can seat around two hundred potential punters only has about a dozen in, performers can be disheartened. However, it is a sign of how professional they all are that noone was daunted by the small audience and indeed the expert handling of the small crowd meant each performer received a great deal of appreciation and warmth as a result. The MC was co-producer Desmond O’Connor, who dressed in a metal studded dark suit drained in chains may have an air of menace to a casual observer, but he initially set up the ease for those on both sides of the stage and in a later appearance played a charming ukelele song  in honour of a character referred to as Miss Dysmorphia which detailed the eponymous heroine’s discomfort within her own skin.

The first performer was Mr B: Gentleman Rhymer. In glasses, a suit, cravat and with an upward curled moustache the sense was that this was going to be a period style 20’s act. However the reality was a pastiche of dance tracks from the likes of Prodigy performed on a banjo and vocally.

When an initial trick fell apart, juggler Mat Ricardo joked about how some performers would do it was deliberately in an attempt to make it look harder than it is. He then added that it is actually very hard. The final trick saw him structure a multi-angled tower with the eight rectangular wooden boxes, sit a glass of wine at the top of it and then balance it all on the mock cigar he was holding in his mouth. Quite some feat.

Stand up performer Wil Hodgson seemed well suited to the burlesque/variety night. He’s an interesting character who used to be a wrestler and also bears tattoos which are a testament to his love of Care Bears and My Little Ponies. His material is delivered in a very deadpan manner and his stillness held the audience’s attention. He gained laughs for his preferences of the female form – particularly the fact that he would climb over Cheryl Cole for Beth Ditto and that he has an admiration for Pam St Clement who he considers to be the embodiment of her character Pat Butcher from the BBC soap opera Eastenders.

Joanne Jolly sang blues and jazz with a rich soulful voice, which meant it was then a surprise to hear speak in a broad Yorkshire accent. Her varied songs included classics like “Blues In The Night” and some more recent dance floor favourites. Joanne Jolly certainly seemed to be enjoying being on stage and encouraged the audience to dance while she herself was moving as much as singing could allow.

Amelie Soleil brought a cheeky darkness to the stage with her circus style act. She initially appeared to make a glass levitate as she filled it from a wine bottle. She then appeared to swallow razor blades that she placed in her mouth. After a sip from the aforementioned glass, she then dropped a string of cotton into her mouth and then slowly pulled it out – to reveal the missing in action razor blades strong upon it. Her act was punctuated only by music and gasps from the audience – Amelie didn’t speak.

Desiree Burch is a feisty New York comedienne whose material is focussed upon relationships, and the difficulties she, a six foot tall larger lady, has in finding an appropriate man. Her delivery was fast and at times furiously energetic, with leaps around the stage but an overall sense that she was enjoying herself and the laughs she got suggested the audience felt the same way.

The final act was Johnny Electrolux, a non-speaking performer who was dressed like a matador. What appeared to be a sword swallowing trick was then perhaps somewhat deflated when Johnny Electrolux put the sword away by seeming to retract it to a quarter of its initial size – possibly giving away how it was stored within his mouth. There was then a standard magic routine involving an apparently floating metal ball which was obscured by a cloth, this appeared to disappear and later transformed into male genitalia. Johnny Electrolux may have a stage persona which is chaotic but there wasn’t really an aspect which belied this and seeming to ejaculate into the crowd was a bit of a low end finale to an otherwise interesting show with a good range of acts.

Compere: Desmond O’Connor.
Performers: Mr B: Gentleman Rhymer, Desiree Burch, Johnny Electrolux, Wil Hodgson , Joanne Jolly, Mat Ricardo and Amelie Soleil.

Producers: Voodoo Rooms, Blond Ambition, O’Connor Ents.

© Chandrika Chevli 2011

Reviewed on Tuesday 16th August 2011, The Voodoo Rooms.

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