‘Black Cat: Bohemia’ review

Nightlife, Cabaret and burlesque
3 out of 5 stars
Black Cat: Bohemia
© Alistair Veryard Photography 2018

Fun but underpowered cabaret show from the Black Cat crew

London nightlife institution Black Cat cabaret take a tilt at the mainstream with new show ‘Bohemia’, which is enjoying a lengthy stint at the Underbelly festival.

And it’s fun, if not earth-shattering. The performers are all individually impressive, and there’s a fine emcee in Frisky (aka Laura Corcoran, one half of the excellent Frisky & Mannish). But it’s difficult to see what Black Cat do that others don’t in a brief, slightly generic show that’s all wrapped up by the distinctly un-cabaret time of half eight (albeit in part because of an actual press night disaster, more of which later).

Frisky is undeniably pretty great: strutting, preening, bantering away with the front rows and belting out a few choice numbers (Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, Kate Bush’s ‘Wow’, Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Because the Night’). And she also almost single-handedly hauls the show through a minor press night disaster: acrobat The Maestro (aka Leon Fagbemi) genuinely injured himself – he bounded across the stage spectacularly and then disappeared for good, prompting some wryly apologetic vamping for time from our host.

The sundry other performers are very talented, but the various moments of hula hooping, fire-breathing and general acrobatics don’t really feel like they quite cohere into anything that justifies the £40.50 top price. Frisky entertainingly mocks the vagueness of the concept (something about recreating history’s great parties), but she’s kind of on the money about its faults. There is some business about two enthusiastic brother acrobats trying to muscle into the show, but it needs developing to make this A Show and not just a compere and some turns.

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