Film noir in style, Cab Suave is circus and cabaret mixed with comedy under the thin pretence of a detective story. The private investigator and master of ceremonies is Dick Johnson. He is also a highly competent performer whose routines are interspersed with the other acts. He juggles, twirls and balances – and impresses – using a variety of props.
Johnson tells us he has been engaged by “an elderly, well endowed” client. He is charged with infiltrating and digging up dirt on a cabaret club that is challenging the innocence of a white picket fence community. Johnson’s job is to run the cabaret out of town.
The sexy, sultry sirens who are the mainstays of the club are known as Amber, Trance, Baby and Mel. Against a music bed of jazz, blues and pop, each performs a number of acts, starting with Amber navigating a large and sturdy hula hoop. Next, Baby clambers effortlessly up red “drapes” hanging from the roof of the venue, undertaking a series of acrobatic routines.
Trance has a fine melodic voice and serenades us during the course of the show. Mel and Baby – clearly with designs on one another – impress with a double, regular size hula hoop act, before Amber takes to the stage again with fire sticks. Mel is also highly adept acrobatically on a rope swing.
Having established himself as part of the troupe, Dick Johnson and the “girls” give us a memorable closing number during which their collective talents are on show. Cab Suave purports to exploit “sleaze”, but in reality gives us plenty of sizzle. The artistes are clearly good at what they do and the show mixes up the offering, which is commendable.
My only concerns were twofold. Firstly, the music made it hard to hear Dick Johnson while he was introducing the four “girls”. That is an easy fix – just turn down the volume while he is speaking. Secondly, for all the high points thereafter, I thought the first act – being the large hula hoop – was the wrong choice. It didn’t achieve the liftoff the show needed to get off to an entrancing start, as a portent of what was to follow. Rather, it required an act with more pizzazz and panache. Still, once Baby takes to the stage, any consideration of the flat beginning is quickly dispensed with.
Cab Suave is largely circus cabaret with bite. It is playing under the Big Top at Reunion Park in Burnley until 10th April, 2022.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Crazy Horse Paris’ Forever Crazy (touring) – theatre review
- Cirque Stratosphere – theatre review
- Lady Beatle (La Boite) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.