Santoni Cabaretoni [FringeTIX]
Dr Brown, Stuart Bowden, Vachel Spirason, Telia Nevile, Granny Flaps @ The Tuxedo Cat – Red Room
11:30pm, Fri 18 Feb 2011
Five bucks late at night almost guarantees a full Red Room, with its comfy pews; people were standing in the aisle, in the doorway, trying to get a peek at what madness was going to spill forth from Dr Brown’s cabaret variety show. “Variety show,” of course, is code for “artists performing snippets of their shows in hope that you’ll come along to see the whole thing.” Which is sweet when it works, and potentially jarring when it doesn’t.
Dr Brown, though, appears to need no introduction; many a whisper is heard in TuxCat’s halls professing love for the bushy-bearded fellow. I’d bumped into him earlier in the evening, and he recognised me from last year; “are you coming tonight?” he had asked. “Yes,” I’d replied, “but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t drag me on stage.” He grinned.
No problems there, though – there was precious little audience interaction (at least, none that was significantly embarrassing). As the host, Dr Brown was first onstage in an elegant blue kimono – performing some invisible puppetry. The physical nature of Brown’s performance is superb, creating a very real sense of the two marionettes he was “controlling” – and his repeated movements as he commanded them to engage in nefarious sexual acts (accompanied by trembling phantom anticipation in his own face) was just divine.
Stuart Bowden, one of The Lounge Room Confabulators, performed a very Confabulator-y story; this was followed by a fantastic reverse-strip tease by Vachel Spirason… appearing wearing nothing but a red g-string, he tossed clothes out into the crowd and then started a strip-dance… summoning the clothes back from the crowd in order, he ended the dance fully clothed. Absolutely brilliant.
Dr Brown returned wearing nothing but a Starbucks apron, and again his refined performance skills were sublime as he took orders from the audience, ever-so-subtly wagging his finger with disappointment at some of the requests. The skit ends when he bends over, flashing his scrotum to the crowd, before introducing Telia Nevile – who performed the initially twee (but ultimately terrifying) poem The Darkness Within. This woman has the most amazing voice – she utterly won me over.
More Dr Brown silliness as he appeared wearing a kabuki mask, his beard spilling around the sides; “it’s me,” he surprised. And then Granny Flaps was the last guest of the evening, and started a little flat before getting the crowd involved with a singalong. Dr Brown, clad in bunny ears, wrapped the show up.
This edition of Santoni Cabaretoni was a bloody hoot, I must say. Whilst there were no real Shortlist-changing surprises in there, it provided a solid hour of freakshow entertainment; for five dollars, how could you go wrong? This, along with Marcel Lucont’s chat show, could be the perfect wrap-up of any day’s Fringing.