Diving down the steep stairs of 1 Mark Lane in the heart of the city, we are transported back in time to a raucous evening of 1930's cabaret. The Milk Club at the Proud Cabaret boasts of being the only dinner theatre in London, mixing burlesque and short theatre sketches with an extensive food menu, wine list and cocktail selection.
The night commences with the ‘Slap and Tickle Girls’, a standard burlesque fare complete with sparkles, feathers and strategically fixed tassels. Nakedness under the guise of art it may be, but it is delivered with panache and enthusiasm and sets the scene perfectly.
Buxom burlesque dancers then make way for the theatre acts, ‘Spilt Milk’. The first act comprises a ventriloquist and his sardonic sidekick, debating their past, present and future. Some good lines and clever concepts, this act is just a little too long for comfort. The second act is a clever, shorter, sketch on the sudden liberation of two computer characters, opponents in a fight game, and their subsequent journey to true love. This triptych wraps up with a sketch relating to the trials and traumas of dating and jealousy; although a sketch to which we could all, I’m sure, relate, this story simply does not come together enough to draw in the audience and gain the laughs it should.
The evening is rounded up with an act by comedy duo, Bob and Jim, who sing and joke about subjects ranging from their personal addictions to their choice of sandwich fillings. The act couples dubious levels of amusement and wit with a strong sentiment that many jokes have been recycled from last year’s Christmas crackers. This evening's mix struggles to come together, and energy levels, raised after the first act, flag with some weaker theatre performances and unconvincing comedy sketches.
The venue itself exudes a flamboyant yet intimate 1930's atmosphere, with a combination of booths and tables for diners and drinkers alike. The staff, friendly and ever helpful, are also decked out in period costume, although not always actually from the same period. You get the best view of the stage from the dining area. Within the drinking area, you may be disturbed by the constant activity from the kitchen and bar.
The Milk Club runs on the last Wednesday of every month, with content changing seasonally. Doors, 5pm; show 8pm; finsish 11.30pm. Cocktails half price before 8pm. Tickets £10 (performance). Ticket plus three-course dinner £24.50.
By Rachel Phillips.