Pros: Excellent mix of entertainments; Lili’s singing was a particular highlight.
Cons: If burlesque is not your thing, this show won’t be for you.
I confess I am extremely partial to the Wonderground’s beautiful Spiegeltent. Every time I walk into those lush red velvet surroundings I instantly want to run away with the circus. Any show benefits from such a transporting atmosphere and Lili La Scala’s Another F*cking Variety Show is no exception. In her magnificent vintage gowns Lili is the consummate hostess throughout the evening, glittering on the Spiegeltent stage like a jewel in a perfect setting.
If there is one thing to take away from Lili’s performance, it is never argue with a diva. Unfortunately on the night I went, the show was beset by some rather dull hecklers. The only advantage was that this allowed Lili and her first act, gentleman juggler Mat Ricardo, to demonstrate their extreme skill at putting hecklers in their place, showing them that the real entertainment was on the stage. Quite what made these louts think they were going to win an argument against a cabaret hostess I am not sure, but Lili rapidly disabused them of their error.
My favourite act in this variety show is The Boy With Tape On His Face, who also happens to be Lili’s husband. The Boy is a contemporary mime who appears, quite literally, with a bag of tricks. The first thing out of the bag is a pair of oven mitts with eyes stuck on, who lip-sync serenade one another a very moving ballad. The Boy’s bemused facial reaction to the profession of endless love happening before him is priceless. Ever more surprising and delightful things emerge from the bag throughout his performance, which involves some friendly audience participation. The Boy’s act is quite adorable and I can readily understand why Lili married him.
The lineup also features the award-winning Aurora Galore doing some very unexpected and witty things with pasties. A performer whose name I unfortunately didn’t catch gives us a strikingly beautiful act in illuminating Isis wings. If you’re wondering what these are then imagine a cape with sticks on the front edges that one can use to swoosh cloth around beguilingly. They don’t generally light up, but these ones did. This works well in the mirrored Spiegeltent, with the glittering performer reflected back from every corner of the space.
Acrobat Reuben Kuan at one point bravely uses a human scaffold for his funny, gravity-defying turn on the stage. The show goes out with a bang (literally–there’s a firework) on MisSa Blue’s act involving some fire, burning hot wax, and a katana. The squeamish might find this performance a bit challenging. As our hostess remarks while introducing MisSa Blue, the fact that they need to lay out a tarpaulin before she comes on should give a clue about the nature of what’s to come.
Between acts Lili treats us to versions of popular songs like Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and Alice Cooper’s ‘Poison’, reimagined in a powerful jazzy style and accompanied by a skilled pianist. For Lili’s singing alone the show is lovely; the skill of the rest of the performers she’s put together for her variety show is the icing on the cake.