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Voodoo Vaudeville: The Baby Warhol Experience
Show type: Misc live shows
Voodoo Vaudeville: The Baby Warhol Experience
Part of the 2006 Brighton Comedy Festival
Hosted by that mischievous master of the macabre, Baby Warhol invites you to share an evening of utter filth, glamour and art. Fresh from the vaults of the legendary Voodoo Vaudeville, the Baby presents a specially commissioned cabaret brimming with bizarre characters, junk films, crazy horse dancers, siamese twins, special guests and psycho music to stir your very soul. So round off your weekend with an evening of divinely weird, gloriously un-PC and seriously unhinged entertainment.
Original Review:Part of the 2006 Brighton Comedy Festival
For a good half of Voodoo Vaudeville, I had barely a good word for them. This messy mish-mash of a show tried to combine the camp glee of Rocky Horror with the forbidden burlesque thrills of La Clic, but without the verve of the former nor the all-enveloping atmosphere or the sublime acts that have made the latter such a cult treat.
In fact, were you looking for their most successful influence, it would probably have to be Pan’s People as this Brighton-based troupe served up very literal dance interpretations of the likes of Starman and Crazy Horses.
Added to this is a litany of pretentiously surreal sketches that wouldn’t be out of place in some experimental art-house short film, as made by an over-intense student. A sallow-faced man mimes to a sing-songy carnival tune about childhood; a bloke with a gorilla’s head performs a strip-tease around a wheelchair; a sad clown loses his tiny girlfriend, a supposedly erotic feather dance is enacted in coy silhouette… you get the bizarre picture
It’s trippy all right, but not in a good way. Other people’s drug-induced imaginings are much more likely to produce dull nonsense as the next Sgt Pepper. And while ,odern art may be art simply because the creator says it is, the same surely doesn’t apply to humour – something isn’t comedy simply because it’s programmed into a comedy festival, whatever the unfeasibly warm reception of a few vociferous home-town cheerleaders in the back row might suggest.
Matters are not helped by a rather bullying attempt at audience participation – clapping and dancing should come naturally, not because we’re intimidated into it – and an over-rigid compere who has all the fluidity of MDF.
But just when all seems lost, they pull out some impressive set-pieces, kick-started by a real dollop of attitude and ballsy wit. A couple of these winning elements had admittedly been there from the start - the absurd and funny baby Andy Warhol puppet floating through limbo who hosts the show and the button-down Christian abstainer who gave the cheeky demons of the chorus some authority for their shenanigans to rail against – but suddenly the whole show comes alive.
Our awkward MC – who has a great Lurch-like face for silly and dark comedy – proves to have a masterful balancing act; the dance troupe come into their own with a sexed-up version of the Red Riding Hood tale and a vampish dominatrix belts out a demonic Annie Lennox cover with nightmarish overtones.
The place comes alive, and the reprise of their audience participation segment is greeted with the genuine enthusiasm that was coldly faked the last time around. You emerge into the night truly entertained, and with the impressive soundtrac seared into you brain.
If only they could have harnessed this for the whole show, having a strong director concentrating on creating a clearly defined atmosphere from their sinister, fetishistic ideas and the possessed energy of the cast. Then the show would have real heart and soul from beginning to end, rather than relying simply on strong visuals and neat stagecraft to get through the slower earlier scenes. These modern vaudevillians can unleash plenty of hellish fun when the occasion demands – they shouldn’t constrain it behind arty pretensions.
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