Tag Archives: cabaret cardiff

Mary Bijou – Hitch! review, by Gareth Pahl

Theatre runs in my blood, it has always been in my life and always will hold a special place in my heart. I am also, as friends may describe me, the most critical critic! Being a hybrid of performer, designer and teacher, high expectation is as much my downfall as it is my making.

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If you expect sharp, polished performance then perhaps Mary Bijou’s ‘Hitch’ is not the show for you. However, what ‘Hitch’ does provide is a good, fun piece of collaborative cabaret style theatre. If, like me, you are excited about the dangers of live theatre then this is an absolute must see. Parts of it were perfect, parts of it were well recovered, and parts of it were just plane crash.

The concept – a series of performances inspired by the most loved films of Alfred Hitchcock, is ambitious but interesting. Mary Bijou have bottled the insanely morbid imagination of Hitchcock and added their own madness into the mix to create this ambitious, yet strangely captivating piece of theatre.
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The performers present with a range of talents – notably in circus, dance, music and comedy and they draw on these skills to create a unique and interesting collaborative performance. The performances are accompanied by the musical works of Tom Elstob, Bethan Cecil and Branwen Munn who created the soundtrack specifically for the show. There were technical issues that were slightly annoying during the first act, although these were ironed out during the interval.

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My favourite musical number was the accompaniment to Anna Sandreuter’s incredible aerial rope act. Not only was the music beautiful, but Anna’s performance on the ropes was flawless and breath-taking. She also made it look easy – and trust me it really isn’t! It’s a shame that Anna’s hula hoop act didn’t go without flaw, however the cabaret nature of the show meant she could recover well and with comedic effect – even adding to the performance.

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Laura Moy’s performance on the Chinese pole inspired by the film ‘The Birds’ was of equally high calibre. The audience were left captivated and in awe of her incredible versatility as she climbed and performed on the pole with a performance that wouldn’t be out of place in the world’s best circuses. One particular drop made my stomach turn as she dropped from the top of the pole, catching it just shy of the ground.

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The evening’s compere was George Orange who’s crazy antics left the audience either in fits of laughter, utter confusion or completely horrified (Why did I open my mouth and reveal my phobia of frogs?). His version of the film ‘Vertigo’ was very hit and miss – at times making you wonder if the mistakes were deliberate or accidental. George’s most notable performance however was in a dance/contortion piece based on ‘The Trouble With Harry’. His flexibility and convincing ability to ‘play dead’ meant that the two other performers  could drag his body around, fold him up, dance with him, and whatever else one might be tempted to do with a body!

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The performance was interspersed with semi-convincing lip syncs to real interviews with cast members of Hitchcock’s films.  In particular there was an interesting piece, in which cast member Joe Wild perfectly lip sync’s to an interview with Kim Novak. Cue ‘Hitchcock’s Leading Ladies’ – a hilarious dance routine by the cast and crew.

Later in the show we see a rather distasteful stripper routine. Personally I felt this let the show down, it was unnecessary and arguably disrespectful. For a production that seemed to be celebrating the works of Hitchcock it seemed totally bizarre to include such a scene that to me undermined the whole production. It should be mentioned that this scene seemed to be like marmite – there were clearly audience members who loved this moment.

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The production ended with a very evocative and cleverly devised piece based on perhaps Hitchcock’s most iconic scene – the shower scene from ‘Psycho’. I won’t say much about it as I don’t want to spoil it – but it really is good!  If I had to rate this show I would be generous and give it 4 stars, whilst I thoroughly enjoyed it there were lots of things I could comment on to bring it down from perfect 5.

I mentioned earlier – if sharp and polished performance is your bag then ‘Hitch’ may not be for you. They were brave tackling a concept that was ambitious, however, Mary Bijou created an interesting and on the whole, well executed show. It did have its faults, and some of them were epic, but generally these almost added to the enjoyment of the show. It is indeed the danger and thrill of live performance that gives this piece its unbeatable charm (minus naked Hitchcock scene).

Review by Gareth Pahl

Hitch! is currently on tour – find forthcoming dates on the Mary Bijou Facebook page

All photographs by Tom Beardshaw (license: Creative Commons attribution)

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Mary Bijou’s Nut Cracking Christmas Cabaret – Review

We sent Darryl J Carrington along to Mary Bijou’s Cabaret to review it for us. Read on, and enjoy!

Mary Bijou by Tom Beardshaw    Mary Bijou by Tom Beardshaw

I was met at the door of the four elms by a grumpy looking reindeer and other curious looking characters. I was enticed in by the smell of mulled cider and friendly faces. What I found was a fantastic cabaret setting, with a lovely warm Christmas glow about it.

From the off, Mary Bijou did not disappoint, with the charismatic host George Orange opening the proceedings, welcoming us and making us laugh straight away with his quick wit.

Mary Bijou by Tom Beardshaw

What followed was a delightful mix of incredibly high skilled performers, presenting well thought out and witty acts. Each with their own take on Christmas happenings, like Anna’s Austrian hula hooping yodeler, who reminded me of that crazy uncle everyone has!

Laura Moys’ Christmas angel routine was very funny and showed off her incredible control on the Chinese pole.

Kitsch’n’Sync’s ice skating routine had me in absolute stitches, as they paraded a ridiculous dance around the stage!!

Paul Evans singing Santa baby, was also a massive highlight of the first act, having the audience screaming with joy.

Jani’s triple cloud swing was like no other act I’ve ever seen. Tying himself in impossible knots and releasing himself with death defying drops – a true craftsman.

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Hannah’s singing ballerina was also beautifully executed, and showed what is possible when using the voice and aerial equipment at the same time, very mesmerising.

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There was a great dance done by the Kitsch’n’Sync girls and Mark who made a lovely nutcracker ballerina. 

As with all of Mary Bijou’s work, there was great use of physical theatre. Stories were being told in a very witty and amusing way.

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I especially enjoyed, Anna and Tom’s ignored wife trapeze routine and Laura’s Virgin Mary on the back of a donkey smoking a fag gag.

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During the performance some burglars got in and invaded the stage with a lovely dance/acro routine that surprised everyone! Where did they come from?

And some boxes danced and a pig and turkey emerged leading to the turkeys demise.

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To top it all off George and Anna did a lovely ski workout, zat was full of laughs ya. That led into the wonderfully talented reindeer Adie Delaney, the big finale act that did not disappoint. With some really technical and impressive swinging trapeze sequences, she beautifully blended her character of a depressed reindeer that had us on the edges of our seats with excitement and laughter.

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What a fabulous cabaret, one of the best I have seen. Was so lovely to see a Christmas cabaret that was not afraid to question the norms, but be incredibly amusing at the same time. I can’t wait to see the next outing by Mary Bijou.

For me; five stars!!!

Mary Bijou by Tom Beardshaw

Photographs by Tom Beardshaw

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Crashmat Collective present – FACADE, Autumn Tour 2014

One of the best performances I saw last year was the Crashmat Collective’s Facade, which I went along to at the Newport Riverfront Centre. Facade is about to set off on an Autumn Tour, which includes a show at the Weston Studio in the Millennium Centre on the 17 October 2014 (book tickets here). If you haven’t seen it, you should TOTALLY GO!

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If you haven’t seen Facade already, I strongly recommend it – it’s a night of entertainment set in a cabaret style club, where you get served a three course meal, and the waiters are also performers.

Here’s the blurb:

The Crashmat Collective crew are back on the road this Autumn for a another stuffing (sorry!) of Façade after a sell out run in Spring 2013.

Façade; an intimate and theatrical three course meal, during which, stories unfold in thrilling and touching ways, encircling you as you dine.

Prepare for a feast for the senses, as well as the appetite.

Become enthralled as the Crashmat performers spin, swing and serve at your table. beautiful, funny and always unpredictable, FAÇADE offers a circus-theatre experience that blurs the boundaries between performer and audience.

Your ticket will include a three-course meal. Please specify any dietary requirements while booking. 

(Scroll to the bottom for show dates in the Autumn Tour)

Here’s a lovely interview with Anna Sandreuter, the co-director of Facade, which includes some great rehearsal footage.

Some photos from their rehearsals this time…

FACADE – AUTUMN TOUR DATES

The Riverfront, Newport
10-11 Oct
Tickets – 01633 656757 newport.gov.uk/theriverfront

Aberystwyth arts Centre, Aberystwyth
14-15 Oct
Tickets – 01970 62 32 32 aber.ac.uk/artscentre

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
17-18 Oct
Tickets- 029 2063 64 64 wmc.org.uk

Ffwrnes, Llanelli
30-31 Oct
Tickets- 0845 226 3510 theatrausirgar.co.uk

The Albany, London
13-14 Nov
Tickets – 020 8692 4446 thealbany.org.uk

Arts Depot, London
20-22 Nov
Tickets- 020 8369 5454 artsdepot.co.uk

The Hafren, Newtown
26-27 Nov
Tickets – 01686 614555 thehafren.co.uk

 

LINKY DINKS

Facade Autumn Tour Facebook page

Crashmat Collective Facebook page

 

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