The Pheasantry, or “The Peasantry” according to our compere, is the grandest Pizza Express I have ever been in, or at least it looked like it would be until I entered. Once inside, it is just like all the other Pizza Express restaurants that litter the country. While perfectly acceptable for a pizza chain, this means that the atmosphere is not the most appealing for cabaret. How were Cabaret Confidential going to play this one, I wondered…
Our glitzy MC’s timing was effortless and voice was smooth – a good start. Nicely warmed up and stuffed with pizza and dough balls, we were eased into the evening. Unfortunately, our next act – “from a musical theatre background” – didn’t quite hit the right note. For such an environment she would have been great, but not here. Her voice had been well trained but it charmlessly took us through a few numbers that did very little for me and my companion. I was looking forward to the return of our bawdy master of ceremonies.
Here he was again, thank goodness, full of twinkle, spontaneity and the promise of better acts. Marianna Harlotta, an old fashioned singer of an undefined Slavic background and a “world class” violinist, came next. Her Toxic and Kate Bush-esque vocals were ridiculous and refreshing, and her style added just the right amount of weirdness to the night’s proceedings: scolding an audience member whose phone went off: “in my country, people have been killed for less”.
Birgitta Kenyon, up till now mistress of the keys, now entertained us with some yodelling and an immensely likable, short and sweet performance that kept the energy ticking along. Better and better and the upwards trajectory was maintained by Confidential’s final act and nominee for Best Newcomer at London Cabaret Awards, Celia Delaney. Songs from Les Mis and the like were made her own with an ability and originality that saw me out with a smile.
Cabaret Confidential would make a good date, and improve the usual Pizza Express experience. But that’s the problem. It’s neither a West End Theatre or a smoky bar and this keeps the magic of cabaret at bay. 2.5/5
Review written by Harry Davies.
Cabaret Confidential was on at The Pheasantry on Thursday 18th December. For more information on future events by Excess All Areas, visit here…
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