EMPOWERING, INTELLIGENT, SILLY AND VERY MOVING
SCIRT WORLD BUSKERS FESTIVAL|
LE GATEAU CHOCOLAT
at The Press CLUB - BUSKER PARK, Christchurch
From 17 Jan 2013 to 22 Jan 2013
Reviewed by Erin Harrington, 18 Jan 2013
Le Gatau Chocolat, a Nigerian-born Londoner, is a drag queen par excellence. His baritone voice is delicious – there is no denying this. But those who may have come for nothing more than an hour of glittery frivolity will be surprised by the light and shade offered up within this intimate hour of song, story and glitter.
The show opens with a goosebump-inducing rendition of ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye', and goes on to encompass musical theatre, cheesy pop and Italian opera.
Le Gateau Chocolat's self-description – “the man, the lycra, the complete asshole” – is a bit self-deprecating, and doesn't account for the depth of emotion encapsulated in the show. Like much drag, the show is as much about self-discovery and redemption as it is about reinvention and fantasy, and Le Gateau Chocolat offers up autobiographical anecdotes, both touching and hilarious, between the musical numbers.
The show uses the construct of theatre to play with the slippage between performance and reality, public and private, and honesty and façade. This is emphasised by the minimal set; a clothes rack, full of ridiculous lycra costumes and amazing glitzy frocks, also functions as the portal between stage and dressing room. A small dressing table with light-bulb lined mirror is the setting for a minimal and poignant performance of Radiohead's ‘Creep', a song that juxtaposes yearning and profound self-doubt.
All that said, the show is wickedly funny and well-paced. Le Gateau Chocolat quickly develops a strong rapport with the audience that allows him to tease, flirt and convince people to assist him in his performances, all without making anyone feel uncomfortable. The show swings from introspection to cheery defiance as easily as it shifts from Streisand to Madonna.
He is ably accompanied by a cellist and a pianist, who are integral to the show, but who manage to remain largely inconspicuous until they become a key part of the show's gorgeous and celebratory finale.
Le Gateau Chocolat is high quality cabaret – empowering, intelligent, silly and very moving. One word: fabulous.
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