We are in the presence of royalty. Or so, Shotgun Carousel make us feel. The cabaret troupe bring a refreshingly unapologetically queer show to the up-and-coming venue, Woolwich Works. With hypnotizingly glittery costumes, Shotgun Carousel lure us into their Grotteaux which is filled to the brim with all the things that shine and sparkle.
The Grotteaux is a variety show that features the most talented and awe-inspiring performers in the LGBTQ+ community. From high heel skating hula hoop Guinness world record holder Symoné to Scottish stand-up comedian John Travulva as a guest artist, the show has a lot to offer. Hosted by Lilly Snatchdragon, who is nothing less than fabulously alluring, it really doesn’t leave much to be desired. Under creative director Laura Drake Chamber’s direction, one incredible act follows another, and the party is in full swing among the audience. Stomping, clapping and snapping from the spectators encourage the performers to step up their game and embrace their motto “live a little” (or a lot in this case).
Cleopantha’s burlesque act celebrating the traditional English roast beef accompanied with real Bisto gravy, a tribute to the good old (hay)fever by stunning Jason Kwan, and sword-swallowing guest performer MisSa have us on the edges of our seats. And not only do Shotgun Carousel deliver incredible solo cabaret, but the company’s own tribute band really sets the tone for the night as they stun with incredible vocals and catchy tunes – from David Bowie to George Michael and Britney Spears. There is hardly anything that the Quatro does not play to get the audience up from their seats.
While the venue is pumping and the air is buzzing with excitement, the venue’s acoustics are the only thing that disappoints about the Grotteaux. It is not a rare occasion that Snatchdragon’s high-pitched comedy gets lost in the old factory’s metal structure. Sadly, Len Blanco’s pop medley is among the performances that suffer most from the venue’s set-up as his voice fades in and out amidst the talented musicians Isobella Burnham, Mark Anthony, and Kwan.
But that does not stop the Grotteaux from uniting incredible burlesque and cabaret artists with complete and trailblazing inclusivity. Molly Beth Morossa’s Grotteaux does not feel like a place but a vibrant community. And as the audience, it is a blessing to be part of it – if only for one night.
It runs until 4 June.
Review: Shirley Both Photo: Rah Petherbridge