Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Cooped Up Cabaret - Cabaret Review

What: Cooped Up Cabaret
When: 4 April, 2020
Where: Zoom
Created and presented by: Sophie deLightful and Timothy Christopher Ryan
Performed by: Avril Angel, The Mighty Ceasar, Celestial Circus, Evelyn Coulson, The Old Married Couple, Sophie deLightful, Monty Montgomery, Kitty Obsidian, Timothy Christopher Ryan, and Kindled Spirits
The Mighty Ceasar
So you think live performance is on sabattical because of physical distancing? Not on your life. Artists are racking their brains and working around the clock finding ways to not only bring performance to the audience, but more specifically to bring live performance into your home. Two of the trail blazers in this arena are Sophie deLightful and Timothy Christopher Ryan with their fortnightly Zoom offering, Cooped Up Cabaret.

Yes, it's not the same as being squashed into a dark black hole with a bunch of stangers and forced to be silent for an hour or more, but that is it's strength. And no, it is not reality TV... or perhaps it is more true to say it is real reality TV rather than that highly produced and manipulative thing we have on our televisions using that name. In fact, I am so inspired by the Zoom platform I have my very own variety offering heading your way soon!

Artists have always taken technology out of it's natural habitat and employed it creatively to bring truth and beauty into the world and Zoom is just the latest in that honored tradition. Zoom is a flexible meeting platform and really does lend itself to cabaret style shenanigans.

Zoom is a live platform. The difference between what we might usually define as live theatre is that the performance comes to the audience rather than the other way around. It also means the frame is changed. Now live performance has to consider the camera view much like film, but it is still has that immediacy and potential risk of all live performance. It also has the added benefit that not all performers need to be in the same city... or even country!

Whilst I don't know if this new development will survive in its current form past the end of isolation, I can state with absolute certainty, the aesthetic and language will become a regular feature of traditional live performance. Let's face it, this concept of things happening in boxes has always been a feature of the stage...

I will be honest. This first iteration of Cooped Up Cabaret had technical problems,he biggest of which was Eurovision clogging the internet. The team were not deterred however, and though the show started late, it was glorious and brave.

The line up was as diverse and exceptional as any normal cabaret. The show had a bit of everything: Performance poetry, cheeky burlesque, fire and light manipulations, dance, the lollipop pole, aerial acrobatics, mime. What more could you ask for?

There were some technical issues including switching problems, lighting problems, and camera lag, but for a first go this was pretty good. What it didn't lack was talent, artistry, and professionalism. It was great to see how everyone had really considered the camera point of view, although I think some artists might need to consider using external cameras because built in computer cameras just aren't designed to cope with complex images. Having said that, in some acts such as the light manipulation by Kindled Spirits the lag actually enhanced the performance because it caused a strobing effect!

Perhaps my favourite act of the night was the dance routine by The Mighty Ceasar. Here is a performer who really understands his art form and the camera lense. Creative concept and so well constructed! This dance (along with deLightful's full bodied rendition of 'Let It Go'), reminded me of what true cabaret is about. In essence it takes the ugly and makes it beautiful, and takes the beautiful and makes it ugly all in the same breath. It shows both sides of the coin. Life doesn't always come up heads.

I also loved The Old Married Couple's songs about isolation, Kindled Spirits' light manipulation, and the amazing acrobatic lollipop pole routine by Celestial Circus. My award for best costuming goes to Kitty Obsidian, and cutest joke goes to Timothy Christopher Ryan's new kink.

Cooped Up Cabaret is a ticketed event which will take place fortnightly, with the next performance scheduled for this Saturday evening. As well as buying your ticket you will be encouraged to tip your favourite performers or the whole cast via PayPal. I think for the near future tipping art you like is how performers are going to survive across all art forms. Think of it like crowd funding or dropping money into a busker's hat. Also, the performers may change with each performance as is the tradition in the world of burlesque/cabaret.

I am very much looking forward to Cooped Up Cabaret becoming a regular feature and it makes a perfect in house date night. The first show was a little long but the hosts will stream line the process as they become more familiar with the technology. They even have a built in intermission so you can go and grab your second bottle of wine.

2.5 Stars





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