Guest written by Becky Hoose
If you like live music, comedy, magic and friendly Geordie blokes who dislocate their shoulders in the name of entertainment, then this delightfully odd variety show is for you. The Carny Cabaret sells itself as a 'tantalizingly twisted crazy circus'. Having heard the word 'circus', I think my companion was expecting elephants balancing on giant beach balls, and so was in for a bit of a surprise as the evening unfolded...
The Carny Cabaret and Alexander's (nestled in the boho oasis of Chester's Rufus Court) seem like the perfect pairing. I was struck by how charmingly quirky and intimate this venue was; a real breath of fresh air from the monotony of mainstream nightlife. The eclectic and wonderfully strange entertainment for the night thrived in the intimate surroundings and low-key atmosphere.
The show was billed as a night full of magic, burlesque, escapology and live music. Compere duo 'The Wizards of Odd' began proceedings, and certainly won the audience over straight from the off. One of the highlights of the evening was the charismatic Chris Cross. A natural showman, he can dislocate his joints with apparent ease and escape from a straight jacket in a minute. Paul Dabek gave the other stand out performance of the night, with his genuinely impressive magic tricks and superb stage presence.
This show certainly isn't for the faint hearted - you're always at risk of the dreaded 'audience participation'. Tip: don't sit near the front if that's a phrase that sends shivers down your spine. Yes, you get a fantastic view, but there's a fine line between feeling involved in the show and literally being part of it, and front row seats put you right in the firing line. Take this from someone who learnt the hard way.
Leeds foursome 'Biscuithead & the Biscuit Badgers' rounded off the night. With their own surreal brand of catchy music and outrageous costumes, they were certainly the logical choice to round off an immensely enjoyable, if slightly odd, night of entertainment!
The Carny Cabaret Show returns to Alexander's Jazz Theatre in Chester on 31st May 2012. If quirky, laugh-a-minute entertainment is your bag, then put this date in your diary! For more information, go to www.alexanderslive.com.