With the majority of the capital’s top entertainers preparing to migrate north for the summer, we are now approaching the vinegar strokes of the London cabaret season until September (the RVT’s Hot August Fringe aside). Thankfully, the Boom Boom Club (in conjunction with Time Out Live) have taken over the ubercool Old Vic Tunnels for six nights over two weeks to send off the season in some style.
In this first week, there was musical comedy from croonmeister Frank Sanazi, squid-faced H.P. Lovebox and character comedienne Sarah-Louise Young; burlesque, boylesk, bellydancing and hand-dancing from Kitty Bang Bang, Count Adriano Fettucini, Leah Debrincat and Up n Over It respectively; circus turns from hoop-mistress Kalki Hula Girl and La Soiree’s Mooky Cornish and ace compering from alt-dragster Jonny Woo and the Weimarian wunderkind Dusty Limits.
Elsewhere in the tunnel, Vicky Butterfly teased passersby as she rocked on a crescent moon, bizarre mannequins lay in wait around corners, ghoulish DJ Markabre Charade spun his spectral sounds and one end of a tunnel was dedicated to a series of dysfunctional fortune telling machines with more than a whiff of The Turk about them.
From conception to execution, the Boom Boom Club have excelled themselves. They have put together a package of high-calibre acts that demonstrate the length and breadth of cabaret. It would have been good to have more idea of which acts were appearing where and when and having the VIP tables (with their wine buckets and bottles) placed in front of the seated non-VIP punters didn’t help them see what was happening but this is a maiden production in a challenging location and neither of those points stopped us enjoying ourselves.
This is the first year that the Fringe has recognised cabaret with its own category and, going by the sheer variety of performers gathered here, it is hard to see what took them so long. Many of these highly skilled acts do not fit into any televison-friendly niches despite having headlined shows in this country and abroad in their own right (or, in the case of Mr Sanazi, reich). If you want definitive proof that Britain’s got talent, vote with your remote by switching off your TV and getting down to the Tunnels.
Details of next week’s line-up and ticket availability can be found here. If you miss out this time around, don’t blame us – we did warn you this would be popular – and don’t despair: our sources tell us that plans are afoot for another Boom Boom run in the tunnels later this year. Keep it tuned to Londonist for the latest news.
For the zingiest cabaret in town, clickety-click here.