Watermans Friday Night Live:
Thank God it’s Friday. It’s been a long week…
Feeling a little jaded and in need of a ‘pick-me-up’?
The Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford has just the thing – funfilled Cabaret Fridays, with Dusty Limits and friends. On Friday nights, Watermans are hosting a series of Cabaret evenings. There’s plenty of variety and culture on offer including comedy, music and contemporary dance and even a regular book festival.
Situated on the banks of the River Thames in West London, Watermans is just a stone’s throw away from Kew Gardens. We made an evening of it and enjoyed a delicious curry from their Friday night curry buffet before heading into the theatre, where we were able to sit back, relax – and be thoroughly entertained.
Cabaret, this peculiar, much-loved art form began life in 19th Century Montmartre, at the Black Cat, with a revue show created by Rodolphe Salis. Amusement at the Black Cat was adult-oriented, indeed decadent –- with a somewhat suggestive Master of Ceremonies introducing music, song, dance and drama.
The formula remains more or less the same though performers and acts have evolved with the times.
So what can you expect on Fridays, at Watermans?
A little teasing, a lot of pleasing…
The performers here bend over backwards, some of them literally to entertain.
You’ve been around…you’ve seen a few things. You might even be a little, how shall we say…’eccentric’? Welcome to Cabaret. It’s all about fun and laughter, a little sexy, sometimes a little sad – but never too much so, for here, now, life is gay indeed.
Our MC for the night was the fabulous Dusty Limits – a veritable veteran, with sculpted cheekbones, eye-shadow, a somewhat dishevelled dinner suit and likewise world-weary wit.
Genial Dusty is charm itself, introducing the night’s Revue with a warm welcome and some mild audience-engagement. If ‘participation’ is your idea of a nightmare, don’t worry. Nothing strenuous or exposing here, just a bit of collective enthusiasm and encouragement, please.
He’s topical, too, gently ribbing this very British farce called ‘Brexit’…taking care not to alienate, whatever your persuasion.
Then, accompanied by brilliant pianist, composer and musical collaborator, Michael Roulston, Dusty set the scene perfectly with ‘Unter den Linden’; a gentle night-cruise along the eponymous Berlin boulevard, before introducing the evening’s first artiste…
Why does one become a juggler? Why not? Ian Marchant performed daring and hypnotic feats armed only with balls, tableware and a tennis racket – and a lot of dexterity, and he makes it all look so terribly easy. The audience held its collective breath, almost everything went to plan, and if it didn’t, well…that only serves to remind that even artistes are human, after all.
More humorous innuendo from Dusty, a blinding rendition of a Noel Coward song, and without delay the next act. Sheathed in sparkling sequinned dress, Coco Malone performed a gorgeous jazz-infused vocal set. Her warm, smoky tones and sensitive delivery made for intimacy: ‘Georgia on My Mind’ was superb.
By now we were thoroughly relaxed and enjoying ourselves, and it was time for something, well, weird…
Ada Camp a hilarious-bonkers, raconteur extraordinaire. This insane, diminutive Puss-In-Boots (of uncertain vintage) purred and growled her way through an increasingly surreal monologue, before propositioning the audience with a finger of fudge.
Any Cabaret worthy of the name requires a sexy climax or two. You have been warned. Storm Hooper took to the stage dressed in nearly-nothing. Her high-tech-hula-hoops took on a demonic life of their own, glowing and flashing in the dark, winding sinuously, impossibly in every direction, and all at once as she gyrated to disco through a series of extraordinarily coordinated contortions.
With the evening’s entertainment drawing to a close, it remained only for Dusty to treat us to a final song, a mordant little number punctuated with shouted expletives.
Friday cabaret at Watermans really is a most delightful evening, which I can highly recommend. It’s raw, charming, refreshingly down-at-heel with no fancy props – just make-up, lights, brilliant stagecraft, a lot of courage and good-humour and a very genuine desire to entertain us, thoroughly.
There’s still time to catch the final event of 2018 and there’s lots more to look forward to in the New Year – the full schedule is below:
Watermans Friday Nights Live program
Fri 7 Dec: Christmas Cabaret Special with Charlie Bicknell’s Snow Angel
What better way to see in the festive season than with some dark hilarity and acrobatics! . 8.30pm
Every Friday night from January 2019:
Judy Carmichael: I Love Being Here With You – Fri 18 Jan, 8.30pm. 75min.
Roulston & Young: Je Regrette! – Fri 25 Jan, 8.30pm. 70min. 14+.
K.O.G and The Zongo Brigade – Fri 1 Feb, 8.30pm
Dusty Limits & Michael Roulston: Heaven and Hell (and Highgate) – Fri 8 Feb, 8.30pm. 75min. 18+.
Aida and The Divine Comedy should attend.
Fri 15 Feb, times TBC
Watermans With Words: Lewis Dartnell & Colin Stuart
AOE: Whist – Fri 22 Feb, 6-10pm, every hour. 60min. 16+
Jantti & Venna: Yabluchkov Candle – Fri 1 March, 8.30pm. 60min. 7+. £15.
Fri 8 March, 8.30pm. 90min. £10.
Christine Bovill: Paris
Alexander Whitley Dance Company: Celestial Motion – A Shared Virtual Reality Experience
Fri 22 Mar, 6-10pm in 15min slots, two people per slot. Each performance lasts 10 minutes. 13+. £7
Marcel Lucont’s Cabaret Fantastique – A Brexit Night Party – Fri 29 Mar, 8.30pm. 90min. 18+. £15
PAULUS: Beta – Fri 6 April, 8.30pm. 18+. £15.
Watermans, 40 High Street, Brentford TW8 0DS
Box Office: 020 8232 1010
Nearest rail: Kew Bridge
Nearest tube: Gunnersbury then bus 237 or 267