Review - Black Cat: Bohemia (Underbelly Festival)

Cast off normality and slink into the world of Bohemia with The Black Cat Cabaret. Within the gloom of the Underbelly Festival’s kitschy Spiegeltent, Black Cat: Bohemia is a dark and dangerous show bursting at the seams with death defying acts that entrance and terrify in equal measure.
At the head of the band of talented misfits who make up the Bohemian ensemble is the glamourous if slightly crackers Miss Frisky, a debauched emcee who opens the show by taking audiences through the history of Bohemia. Performer Laura Corcoran gives off the impression she may have arrived at the South Bank via the set of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. And frankly that’s an aesthetic audiences need to be willing to embrace, as Miss Frisky has no qualms with getting up close and personal with her rapt onlookers. Her patter is excellent, as she approaches audience members at random and draws them into her twisted world. No one is safe in the Spiegeltent, it seems. Whips are cracked, acrobats drop from the sky, and flames threaten to singe the eyebrows of those in the first few rows.
Katherine Arnold’s drunken aerial antics Danger K are a particular highlight, as she soars and swoops in an aerial hoop, accompanied by Corcoran’s punchy take on Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. The act is frantic and daring, with flaring lights emphasising the riotous and rough around the edges vibe of the show perfectly. Malcom Rippeth’s kaleidoscopic lighting design gives the moment a particularly gorgeous and spellbinding aura. Similarly, Nicolas Jelmoni and Charlotte O’ Sullivan perform a heart stopping gymnastic duet which defies belief.

The rest of the cast fits together perfectly, maintaining slickness throughout the show whilst preserving a sense of rough and ready charm. They were forced to think fast on press night and rearrange large chunks of the show when gymnast Leon Fagbemi was injured at the beginning of his act, and it’s a testament to the talent of the troupe that the audience barely noticed anything was wrong as the show was reworked in real time to account for his absence.
In short, Black Cat: Bohemia will make your eyes light up and your heart skip a beat. It’s awesome. In every sense of the word.