A cool blend of contemporary & retro culture

Boom Boom at the House of Casa Blah-Blah: non-stop (overly familiar) cabaret…

Several shows have left their indelible mark from Fringe festivals past, two of these being Limbo – which enjoyed several consecutive seasons at Perth Fringe, and Blanc de Blanc – which garnered rave reviews for its outlandish production last year.

Fans of circus cabaret ought to be pleased do know a new production from Strut & Fret – the creators of Limbo and Blanc – has opened at the fully renovated three-tiered entertainment venue that is The Rechabite in Northbridge.

A production packed with nu-burlesque, impressive acrobatics, aerial stunts and classic cabaret, all presented at a wild and frantic pace.

The show itself possesses a mouthful of a name: Boom Boom at the House of Casa Blah-Blah, the ‘house’ being the recently refurbished Rechabite Hall in Northbridge. For the record, the building was erected in 1925 for the Independent Order of Rechabites – a society that promoted total abstinence from alcohol consisting of folks who refused to live in ‘houses’.

Crude irony aside, the venue does deliver on the aesthetic front: original features like its art deco tiling, old-school ticketing booths and grand doors have remained intact while new finishes such as hard mesh panelling and huge neon lettering lend the venue a postmodern club vibe.

But back to the show at hand. Boom Boom etc is an impressive enough production packed with nu-burlesque, slick acrobatics, aerial stunts and classic cabaret, all presented at a wild and frantic pace. The action itself is awesome to watch yet no matter how sky-high these gorgeous performers reach, it appears as though we’ve seen it all before.

Spanish aerialist David Marco – dressed to the nines and straddling a slippery hat-stand – sees a few jaws dropping, while German expert on the cyr-wheel Oscar Kauffman brings Cirque du Soleil-style chops to the proceedings.

In between the circus dynamics, the production is MC-ed by broken-English speaking sleazeball, Claudio Carneiro, who appears loveable enough at first (or at least, pitied) but who can eventually get on audience’s nerves with his somewhat ‘stuck’ brand of slapstick. Chasing a spotlight around a multi-tiered venue is funny for the first minute but after three it gets a little tiresome (patrons kept having to crane their necks to spot where he would be hanging next).

There was also some unnecessary toilet humour; indeed, one scene features a literal toilet where the performers enter and exit, leaving a mock mess and smells in their wake. It really didn’t need to be in here.

Funnily enough, it were the simpler segments of this show which I enjoyed most. In one number, a pseudo-drunken couple are leaning over a mezzanine balcony, lip-synching to Jim Backus & Friends’ kitsch jazz tune Delicious – an ode to champagne (trainspotters might recognise Backus as the voice-actor of Mr. Magoo). The lip-synching here is utterly brilliant, bringing to mind Montreal’s Cabaret Decadanse, and the drowsy, sleazy tone of the song perfectly suits a show with ‘cheek’ as its central selling point.

I suppose that is what a show like this needs: lots and lots of champagne (or any other drink you’d care for) to sip as the production goes on, so that audience members might reach the same slapstick / jovial levels the performers appear to be on.

Reaching, you could say, for that proverbial high. ★★★1/2

Antonino Tati

 

‘Boom Boom at the House of Casa Blah-Blah’ at The Rechabite 224 William St, Northbridge WA until December 21, 2019.

Tickets are available here.

 

 

 

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