Little Death Club

Fri 3rd – Sat 25th August 2018

reviews

Andrew Jameson

at 10:11 on 11th Aug 2018

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Now I should probably preface this review by saying that a cabaret show is not how I typically spend my Friday nights. My personal experience of 'Little Death Club' was probably more one of terror and alarm than complete enjoyment. The throwaway description of an audience member's "beautiful, slightly petrified eyes" was a little bit too real for me at moments – I jest ... sort of. That being said, I still greatly appreciated the performance for what it managed to achieve in its one hour time slot. It was opened by mistress of mayhem, Bernie Dieter, who masterfully wove together a show which included fire breathing, a mime and a trapeze show.

The show was very well put together: the lighting and design of the space were stunning and the costumes – or occasionally lack thereof – were certainly notable and stylistic. The music, performed by a live band, was superbly fitted into the performances and became particularly fun during a duet in which there was only one singer. The image of a drag queen yawning amidst the atmospheric lighting and swelling music because she didn't "sing this bit" was highly amusing.

There was an excellent atmosphere among the crowd, with some amusing audience participation and many laughs throughout. The mime who was fed up with his life of make-believe and craved something real was a particularly humorous highlight – especially when he finished by coming up on stage with a real box.

But it wasn't all laughs, and there was a good blend of more subtle, melancholic tones during the trapeze song. The overall performance was also concluded with a nice note about accepting and celebrating difference, which played nicely against the lightness of the show.

The trapeze itself was fantastic to watch, with Oliver Smith-Wellnitz doing an amazing performance. And that was just one of many stunning set pieces - all these segments fitted together to form an impressive and very well orchestrated show.

For me, however, the ever-present tension that the eye of one of the performers may fall on me as the next 'volunteer' may have tainted my experience slightly. There were also a couple of moments when it did seem to slow a little, but these were minor and generally it kept to a tight and fun pace.

So while 'Little Death Club' is maybe not something that I would necessarily seek out myself, I can certainly appreciate the skillful craft that was put in to creating it. If it is your scene, then you're in for a great night.

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Siobhan Stack-Maddox

at 12:44 on 11th Aug 2018

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"Having a good audience is like having good sex" , Bernie Dieter, the "Queen of Weimar Punk Kabarett", proclaims during her opening of her show. Even before the performance begins, she is prowling the circus-like Beauty Spiegeltent, teasing audience members while covers of 'Oops, I did it again' and 'Sex Bomb' play. Feeling entirely out of place amongst a rather raucous, mostly middle-aged audience, I can only expect the unexpected and sit back and enjoy the show.

From the very start of the show, it is clear that the 'Little Death Club' love what they are doing and want to the audience to have as much fun as they are. There are no boundaries, physical or otherwise, with Dieter amongst the seats, draped over audience members and standing on chairs during her first number. It is impossible not to laugh as three men, who she nicknames "Lumberjack", "Business" and "Silver Fox", are instructed to pick her up and parade her around the stage and then copy her dance routine.

Along with the nudity, erotica and sequins, there's real talent in this performance. Dieter herself has the audience captivated during her numbers and laughing at every joke, and 'the Veir' band who provide the show's soundtrack give a slick performance. It's a true circus extravaganza, with Kitty Bang Bang's fire-eating act, which sees both the stage and the performer's (very minimal) costume set alight, and the hypnotic, androgynous trapeze artist, Oliver Smith-Wellnitz, whose strength and precision are quite incredible. And the visual spectacle is accompanied by sharp wit and hilarious humour, including a number composed entirely of innuendo, performed by Dieter and the band holding emoji-signs for each line.

Equally amusing is the self-deprecating and melancholic mime artist, Josh Glanc, who is overjoyed to be locked into a real cardboard box, rather than an invisible one, by an audience member and a sarcastic drag queen who makes the audience sing more of her own number than she does. And the audience is only too happy to join in, singing along, laughing and cheering enthusiastically at every opportunity.

One of the most unexpected parts of the show is its end, when Dieter makes a heartfelt speech about embracing difference and celebrating "the freaks and the weirdos," and sings a song dedicated to her grandmother (albeit one centred around alcohol). This only emphasises the passion, both erotic and artistic, which is intrinsic to this show. If you're looking for an outrageous evening of hilarity and total debauchery, this is one not to be missed.

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