On a chilly Thursday night, I took a friend and my mother along to see ‘London’s Burning’ at Speakeasy HQ. Billed as featuring the UK’s best vaudeville performers, I was very excited and curious to see the show. Seeing this show had good timing in my life, as I have a number of friends currently in the UK who I was missing so this show was like a pretend trip to the UK. We were all welcomed into the theatre by the lovely Speakeasy HQ staff, and were lucky to have a front row seat close to all the action. The host for the evening was the sassy and brash Charlie Chapstik, dressed in the Union Jack colours. Charlie addressed the audience with an ‘East End of London’ accent…if you’re unsure of what this sounds like then I encourage you to see Charlie Chapstik in action! Sensing that there may be some newcomers in the audience to vaudeville / burlesque (one of Charlie’s specialties), Charlie went on to instruct the audience in the proper way to encourage a burlesque performer, and conduct during the show while also hinting at what we may expect during the rest of the show. Charlie performed a mini burlesque routine for the audience, which had the audience cheering, applauding and eager to see more.
The first act was a comedian, introducing himself as Gabe (Gabriel)…I’m VERY pleased to report that he was a dead ringer for none other than Harry Potter! Luckily, he spoke about this himself (apparently it is a regular occurrence for him to have people point out this likeness) otherwise I’m not sure I would have highlighted it. Gabe’s comedy was anecdotal and modern, mentioning stories of drinking adventures, Uber rides and his time in Melbourne. It felt surreal hearing modern jokes in my hometown from a Harry Potter lookalike, however I immensely enjoyed his set. Promptly, a performer named Miss Crystal glided onto the stage and presented a whimsical and mesmerising contact juggling routine to the David Bowie classic ‘Dance Magic’ from the movie Labyrinth. For those who are unsure of what contact juggling is, it is style of juggling that David Bowie’s character (Jareth) performs in that film. On the rare occasions that I’m blessed to watch contact juggling, it never fails to take me away to another place entirely. The performance by Miss Crystal was no different. With wide eyes, I was mesmerised as I watched the deep red crystal ball dance and jump from hand to hand seemingly by unseen forces. I was completely taken away – such a brilliant routine.
Alex – who was described by Charlie Chapstik has having a ‘Posh’ accent appeared on stage to tell us jokes, stories and to read poetry. Alex amused the audience with stories of his time in Australia, including a very colourful description of what sights to expect on the Gold Coast, as well nuances of / his struggles with the Australian language (in particular the Aussie penchant for shortening words). Alex read us a clever poem featuring popular Aussie shortened words, which the audience enjoyed. Bonza!
A charming lounge singer names Andy C was next on stage. Hailing from Brighton, he had a very strong, lush British accent. He sung some classics for us – “Miss Jones” and “Mr Bojangles”. I looked around the audience to see many people’s eyes shining with delight. Andy C easily had the audience in the palm of his hand. My mother enjoyed the pace of music and we all swayed along to the beautiful songs. Prior to interval, Charlie Chapstik returned to surprise us all with a Charlie Chaplin inspired burlesque routine – something you need to witness in person to believe. Charlie Chapstik is a magnificent performer and certainly likes to surprise her audience!
By the time interval arrived, I’d heard so many different accents from the UK I was starting to question what city I was in, and was also keen to check a map when I got home to pinpoint all the different places mentioned. During interval, we were lucky enough to speak to Gabe (the Harry Potter lookalike) again, which was very exciting!! We purchased delicious and snacks and another round of drinks (of course!) before the show continued.
Alex “Posh boy” returned after interval and revealed he was originally from Worcester / Worcestershire (don’t even mention that sauce!!!) and I was pleased when he uttered some classic British phrases. He comes across as genuine, which I think the audience appreciates (particularly in a comedian). Undoubtedly the most impressive part of his performance was when he read out an account of what happened with the whole Brexit situation, in the style of Shakespeare (making references to many Shakespearean works in his prose). The crowd was speechless and deeply impressed.
Coming to the end of the evening, Andy C returned to the stage in style – he chatted to the audience (which I enjoyed because he does have a lovely voice) and then mentioned that some people have pointed out his likeness to a popular singer – Robbie Williams!!! My friend had already discussed his likeness to Robbie Williams during interval so we were both especially delighted when Andy C sang Robbie’s popular hit “Rock DJ”. We were the most excited audience members in the room as we sang along and danced in our seats!! It was one of the highlights of the night.
For the finale, the audience was treated to the dazzling and sultry burlesque of Marilyn Mocktail. Marilyn has the most wonderful smile, you can’t help but be seduced by her and beautiful, twirling routine. So graceful and playful all at once. Marilyn’s routine caused much whistling, cheering and delight from the audience. It was a perfect end to a thoroughly fun and sassy show. I’d had so much fun that I wanted to stay in ‘pretend UK’ and was reluctant to leave and return to my usual life.
Verdict: I have seen vaudeville shows at Speakeasy HQ before. Speakeasy HQ specialises in this entertainment form, and the venue sets the bar high. This show by UK performers was fantastic. I didn’t know what to expect and was surprised and entertained by each performer. If this show returns to Speakeasy HQ, please go and see it! My mother and friend each enjoyed the evening. It was the perfect escape within a busy working week.
Disclaimer: I attended this event as a guest of Speakeasy HQ.