★★★★★ | The Black Cat Cabaret, Leicester Square, London
The Black Cat team are riding high with their unique brand of impish entertainment. They’ve got regular shows at Live at Zedel at Piccadilly and now they’ve invaded the cheesy Christmas market in Leicester Square and landed in the glamorous, mirrored 1920s Paradiso Spiegeltent. Move over wooden huts, mulled wine in a plastic cup and greasy sausages. The Black Cat has infiltrated and is throwing all tackiness aside in favour of subversive fun.
The line-up is ever changing but you can expect circus, cabaret and burlesque. There’s also bound to be some testosterone pumped male torsos to liven up a chilly winter evening. Regular host Dusty Limits is a deadpan joy as he oozes cynicism and wit. It’s a well-curated blend of acts and one with an eye on intelligent parody rather than cheap thrills. Naturally and thankfully, there are also cheap thrills.
The problem with cabaret and burlesque is that after a few visits it can feel like you’ve seen it all and you can be left thinking: Oh, another fire-eater. Oh, another hula hooper. Oh, another semi-naked man in a giant wheel type thing. The Black Cat is careful to only chose acts that have a bit more to add, acts that play with the form and respectfully make fun of it, as well as themselves. I was lucky enough to see the hilarious drag star Meth strutting her stuff as well as an array of dark circus acts, a bizarre string quartet and the most comically disaffected hula hoop act that I’ve ever seen.
Brighten up a winter night and stroke the pussy if you dare. The Black Cat can bite but he also entertains. Oh, wear a warm coat and knock a few Egg Nogs back too. It’s bloody freezing in that wooden tent.