In the grand setting of Camden Roundhouse, decorated with curtains and a backdrop of glittering stars, you get a great sense of anticipation of what lies ahead at Miss Behave's Variety Nighty.
With booze flowing, the show kicks off with Miss Behave in a creakingly tight rubber dress pushing a rose through her tongue and showing off her renowned sword swallowing antics (remember White Mischief?), but comments, with a touch of pathos, that her ability to steal and down audience members' drinks generally gets a bigger cheer.
At one point, she swallows a chair leg, and links acts laying on a safety net high up in the gods, complaining that she'd had to lose her killer heels and don flip flops to roll around on high. And then threatens to throw up on table 13.
The night slips into act after act of pure entertainment, some of it laugh out loud, other parts giving rise to audible gasps. This is indeed a night of variety, with a touch of cabaret, circus and burlesque thrown in. You'll actually believe Matt Hennen's crystal ball is floating in front of your eyes; such is the dexterity of his movements.
Crazy dance gang SpyMonkey disappoints with a puerile dance number focused around the only female member of the troupe's ability to appear to smoke via, and shoot things out of, her fanny, closely followed by a lady commenting on the state of American politics by appearing to play a kazoo via her front bottom and a trumpet from her arse.
Frank Sinazi stands out as a sailing-close-to-the wind Aryan version of old blue eyes, singing 'Strangers on My Flight' and 'Third Reich' to the tune of 'That's Life' ("Third Reich, that's what all the people say, I took Poland in April, and France in May…"). He claims his songs are available in the 'uneasy listening' section of record stores, and that he's available for children's parties.
Cabaret singer Dusty Limits impresses with his old-school rendition of a very modern song about self harm, but the silk, slick aerobatic maneuvers of contortionist Marjo Nantel steal the show at this point. Dangling way above the audience, with no safety rope, this elfin lady made it seem her sky high silk gymnastics are as relaxing as rolling on a bed. A quick glance around the audience revealed a great many open mouths.
Sadly, two other excellent aerial acts couldn't match Marjo's excellence, despite their own merits but, perhaps, in a night which promised 'variety', three aerial acts were a bit much.
Of course, a bit of fire eating never goes amiss, and Lucifire's finale to the evening didn't disappoint.
Bravo to Miss Behave and the Roundhouse for putting this show on for the whole of August. As she says at the beginning of the evening, "Tonight, forget the real world for a while…" and, just for a while, we really did.
By Will Rankin
You can still catch the show this weekend at the Roundhouse, with a regularly changing line-up. Visit the website for tickets and details.