Review: Bohemia, Black Cat Cabaret, Underbelly Festival

“Bohemia inspires genius, great art and madness.” At least that’s according to Miss Frisky, emcee of the Black Cat Cabaret. And it’s most certainly true as the circus cabaret act returns to the South Bank’s Spiegeltent, this time with their latest show, Bohemia, said to be their “most dark and daring theatrical spectacular to date.”

Directed by Sean Kempton, Bohemia is packed full of bold, seemingly impossible stunts performed by aerialists and acrobats (as well as a fire-eater) and accompanied by a live house band (with direction by James Keay). Following a condensed history of bohemia the show soon gets underway, with the audience treated to a dazzling display of circus and cabaret with a dark and sleazy underground edge. Everything about Bohemia is visually spectacular, from the flawless, daring routines to the vivid and colourful costumes (notably that of Miss Frisky, who in the flame-haired emcee’s own words looks like “Ginger Spice ate Tim Burton”.)

The cast are all incredibly talented, each bringing something different to the show and showcasing enviable talents and strength, making their routines appear effortless. Jo Moss (Slippin’ Jo) gets the evening off to a great start with his brilliant Cyr wheel routine, while Katharine Arnold (Danger K and Bohemia’s Circus Director and Choreographer), puts in a terrific performance as a vodka-loving queen of the aerial hoop. One of the show’s most sizzling moments is thanks to Hayley Harvey-Gomez, who as Missy Fatale wows the crowd with her mesmerizing fire-eating burlesque routine. Meanwhile Nicolas Jelmoni and LJ Marles provide comic relief throughout as the acrobatic knaves. It’s these two who also provide some of the show’s more tender moments, particularly with Marles commanding the aerial tension straps and a jaw-dropping acrobatics routine between Jelmoni and Charlotte O’ Sullivan.

Finally Laura Corcoran (Miss Frisky) is the perfect host with incredible comic flair and a belting voice as she treats the crowd to well-known tunes including Smells Like Teen Spirit, Female of the Species and Kate Bush’s Unbelievable. Her often flirtatious and cheeky interactions with unsuspecting members of the audience keep the show running seamlessly throughout.

And while not quite everything went to plan on press night itself, with The Maestro’s (Leon Fagbemi) act sadly coming to a premature ending when he sustained an injury, the company dealt with it professionally (so well in fact that many audience members presumed it was part of the show) and with good humour, after all, “anything can happen in the circus.”

Bohemia is packed full of breathtaking, hilarious, edge-of-your-seat performances – everything you could wish for in a show like this. “The night belongs to us,” sings Miss Frisky during an entertaining finale. It most certainly does.

Five stars

This review was originally written for Love London Love Culture. To read the original, click here.

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