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Last August, Time Out & Soho Theatre launched TO&ST: the Edinburgh Cabaret Award. We scoured the Fringe Festival to find an electric talent who represented the very best in contemporary cabaret – worthy of a long run at the Soho Theatre under the Time Out Live banner – someone, dare we say it, who could serve as an ambassador for the best in contemporary cabaret to a general audience unfamiliar with the form. A tall order? Yep. Tough competition? Hard as glitter-coated nails. Did we find a winner? Oh, hell, yes – we found Lady Rizo.
I walked into the tent that served as her venue at 9pm on a wet Monday night, cold, damp and a bit grumpy. An hour later, I was on my feet, grinning, moved, challenged, slightly aroused and utterly elated by this New York fixture making her European debut. Tingling with charisma, Lady Rizo wore an alien-beehive up-do, chandelier earrings and a dress you could cut gems with.
She sang, with lightning-rod power and tingling charisma, songs about passion, revenge and freedom by Piaf, Hendrix, Dolly Parton, Nine Inch Nails and herself. She was crazy funny, thinking and speaking on her feet, doing freaky bits of oral business with sequinned gloves and roses and dragging a punter behind a screen for a silhouetted liaison. She was soulful, uproarious, irresistible.
Best of all, she cultivated that sense of creative conspiracy – of being the leader in a gloriously unrehearsable, unrepeatable collaboration between performer and audience – that is the essence of cabaret. If that’s not enough to tempt you, here are seven reasons why Lady Rizo is your perfect introduction to cabaret today...