The Double R Club is a dark and disturbing spectacle of Lynch inspired nightmares. Away from its usual setting at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, The Double R grows into something quite simply terrifying at the London Wonderground Spiegeltent.
Host for the evening is the silver tongued wordsmith Benjamin Louche – as rakishly sordid as his name suggests. He is very well presented and instantly connects with his audience. He commands, nay, demands your attention and before you realise what is happening, Louche has you in the palm of his hand ready to crush you. You don’t have to be a David Lynch fan to appreciate the effort that Louche puts into his introductions, although it does help.
Bettsie Bon Bon is typically all glitz, glamour and glitter; an absolute delight to behold but not what one would imagine on the stage at the Double R Club. Bettsie takes centre stage in absolute darkness; you can just about make out her silhouette. As she opens the box set out for her, she is gently bathed by a shaft of light. When the light catches her face you can see that cheeky vixen grin that causes the breath to hitch. It feels naughty, intrusive, voyeuristic if you will. So right and yet so wrong!
Before you have chance to catch your breath, Twice Shy Theatre are up to foist you further into darkness. Their innovative piece using their famous Bunraku puppet stripper is well executed. The addition of a saxophonist meandering through the audience makes the nightmare all the more realistic. The childlike voice from the soundtrack is enough to make the spectators squirm, especially as the puppet is liberated of her clothing.
Once the inappropriate arousal of a naked waif-like puppet has subsided, the audience are treated to the lugubrious sounds of Kate Shields and The Sycamore Ensemble as a beautiful ballerina dances around her en pointe. Kate’s music sends chills down the spine.
Before being released into the balmy evening air to gather ourselves together for the second half, there is the unexpected treat of Fancy Chance suspended above the crowd by her hair. Her moves have the audience gasping and wincing.
Louche welcomes the audience back to the Speigeltent with his No-Go Go-Go dancers, headed up by the delectable Felicity Furore whose moves entrance the audience and lull them into a false sense of security just in time to welcome Chrisalys to the stage. Chrisalys defies gravity and physics with his aerial act, performed not on a ring or a bar but on a bed frame! Professional vintage jazz and blues vocalist Em Brûlée wraps the audience up with her velvet voice before breaking their hearts and leaving them with goosebumps on their goosebumps.
It would be safe to say that the whole show has been preparing the audience for Heavy Metal Pete (one half of Riding the Valkyrie) and sideshow darling Snake Fervor. Pete is a voracious character hell bent on torturing his stage companion with fire and fury.
In all, the Double R Club is a terrifying yet addictive experience that will send you on a portentous rollercoaster and leave you begging for sweet mercy by the end! If you are looking for a frivolous, joyful evening then the Double R Club is not for you. However, if you laugh in the face of depravity and sheer terror then by all means, get your tickets for their final show in August, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!
The Double R Club at London Wonderground reviewed by Kimberley OddSocks
Quoted in major international newspapers and held in high esteem and affection by the international burlesque community, 21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.