The Fringe Fringe has had its fair share of shows in recent years that have combined physical theatre, such as acrobatics, balancing acts, sword swallowers and magicians, with racy torch singers and comedians. So many, in fact, that, in most cases, they have become a bit predictable and tedious.
This year, however, one production has emerged that has combined and refreshed all of these elements into a clever, cohesive context to create a very satisfying night’s entertainment.
Prohibition revolves around the unifying conceit that the audience has travelled back in time to the 1930’s and have meandered into Paddy’s Bar for a few illicit drinks – and some morally questionable stage entertainment.
Immediately, the seductive femme fatale, Minnie the Maneater, is on her game tempting ordinary Joes (and Janes) to ditch their partners and try her ‘merchandise’ instead. Minnie has a powerful set of lungs on her and commands rapt attention as she prowls and purrs around the stage during her two numbers.
Fringe regular, Dado the Hump, seems right at home on the bill in this club – picture the travelling circus show depicted in the depression-era HBO series Carnivale, but less sinister, and you will know the vibe that is created here. The audience lapped up his Dado-speak, and his droll balloon manipulation act.
Events take a turn for the worse it seems, when jaded private dick, Dirk Darrow, bursts in with handgun drawn, and attempts to bust a few patrons. When he only finds someone in possession of cocaine – ‘not illegal in 1932’ – he has to resort to card tricks to save face. As impressive as these are, they perhaps go on for a tad too long. Dirk’s stage patter is very funny though, even if it does, even by his own admission, step well over the line of political correctness!
The accomplished acrobat, Caz Walsh, performed some astonishing acrobatic feats, and the rest of the ensemble chipped in with a melange of well-executed juggling, complex balancing routines, and a whiskey bottle reproducing magic routine that all drew loud exhalations of admiration from all corners of the crowded venue.
Dado the Hump came back to the stage late in the show armed with a loaded crossbow. (I could tell you what he does with it, but that would be (William) Tell-ing…)
The soundtrack for the show was created from a well chosen mix of jazzed-up modern pop songs lifted from a variety of sources – some instantly recognisable, some not immediately – but all fitting the mood.
Saturday night’s capacity audience ‘ooh-ed’ and ‘aah-ed’ throughout the show and were all talking in superlatives as we filed out at the end of the night, and, all up, this was a well-sequenced, fast-paced and entertaining show that struck a perfect balance between humour and physicality.
Rating: 4 stars
Prohibition is being performed at The Speakeasy in Gluttony at 9:45pm until March 19.