Review: Lili La Scala’s Another F*cking Variety Show (London Wonderground 2015)

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Before its annual trek up to Edinburgh Fringe, Another Fucking Variety Show stopped by the London Wonderground Spiegeltent to wow the crowds with an enviable, ever-changing line-up of cabaret stars.

Lili La Scala in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015.  ©Clive Holland
Lili La Scala in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015. ©Clive Holland
Lili La Scala in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015. ©Clive Holland
Lili La Scala in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015. ©Clive Holland

Headlining hostess Lili La Scala, exquisite opera-diva-cum-rock-star, presides in style with razor sharp wit and a series of devastatingly fabulous outfits. Her opening number, ACDC’s Highway to Hell, feels like a departure from her usual repertoire, and she appears to be fighting her way through at times. A rousing rendition of Space hit Neighbourhood follows a brief but passionate sermon about the evils of gentrification and the loss of cabaret venues in the capital. Her typically haunting delivery of Radiohead’s Creep, a signature arrangement, is more spirited here with the excellent musical backing of co-arranger and pianist Tom Barnes, and drummer Jonathan ‘Kitch’ Kitching. Lili ends with a full power, swaggering, key-climbing version of Oasis’ The Importance of Being Idle.

Katrina in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015.  ©Clive Holland
Katrina in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015. ©Clive Holland
Tina Turner Tea  Lady in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015.  ©Clive Holland
Tina Turner Tea Lady in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015. ©Clive Holland

Katrina, who was so impressive in Black Cat Cabaret: Nocturne, plays maiden and villain in a sexed up fairy tale on aerial chains. Tina Turner Tea Lady is a hilarious geriatric version of the pop-rock superstar, unleashing her pent up sexual tension on unsuspecting male audience members and berating moccasin wearers. Circus artiste Michael Standen delivers a routine combining dance, acrobatics and hand balancing which lacks structure and leaves limited time to fully concentrate on any of the disciplines and build on the basics.

Michael Standen  in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015.  ©Clive Holland
Michael Standen in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015. ©Clive Holland
The Boy With Tape on His Face  in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015.  ©Clive Holland
The Boy With Tape on His Face in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015. ©Clive Holland

Burlesque newcomer Nina LaBelle, in a Wonderground stage debut spot any initiate would kill for, parades a dazzling, sumptuous turquoise showgirl ensemble to brassy Crazy Horse Paris ballad Open Your Legs. She rises to what is surely an intimidating occasion admirably and is a fabulous tassel twirler. Time and experience should hopefully improve her fluidity and help to conceal her thought process, and her decision to end a classic, glamorous number by pouring a thick blue liquid over her beautiful pasties should perhaps be rethought.

Kitty Bang Bang in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015.  ©Clive Holland
Kitty Bang Bang in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015. ©Clive Holland

Boy With Tape on his Face departs from his tried and tested medley of mirth and instead delivers a transfixing, knuckle-knawing feat of plate spinning, complete with the hilarious expressions and antics which make his persona so successful. Big-hitting burlesque Brit Kitty Bang Bang rocks out to Alice Cooper with flaming torches in hand, and Puddles Pity Party, a towering, melancholy, lantern-clutching clown with 24 carat vocal chords, is an exciting addition to the cast. Rippling aerial god Jair Ramirez serves up a spectacular finale of breathtaking strength and presence; he appears to create his own force field of thrilling energy.

Jair Ramirez in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015. ©Clive Holland
Jair Ramirez in Another Fucking Variety Show at London Wonderground 2015. ©Clive Holland

Another Fucking Variety Show continues to set the bar dazzlingly high and deliver well paced, cleverly curated, top drawer entertainment. Those heading to the Fringe would do well to catch Lili and her wide selection of first rate friends.

Reviewed by Holli-Mae Johnson

Another Fucking Variety Show returns to London Wonderground on Wednesday 23rd September. 

Holli-Mae Johnson
Holli-Mae Johnson

Burlesque Hall of Fame / Miss Exotic World Judge, 2011 Holli-Mae Johnson is the founder and editor of 21st Century Burlesque Magazine, a pioneering publication created nine years ago to unite, document and celebrate the global burlesque community. Holli is actively involved in the burlesque community on a day to day basis and is privately consulted by performers and producers at every level for promotion, critique, recommendations and encouragement. As a documenter and critic, she has seen countless burlesque and variety performances from across the world and provides an intimate perspective and insight into the lives and careers of burlesque’s greatest pioneers, performers and personalities.

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