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SENSUAL DREAMS – Hippodrome Casino, London.

Sensual Dreams, Hippodrome Casino, LondonMy first cabaret experience turned out to be Sensual Dreams in the Matcham Room at the Hippodrome Casino. Directed and choreographed by Ricardo Canadinas, this colourful Vaudeville inspired show is a blend of dance, theatre and magic perfectly suited to the location. Combined with original music and well known hits played by a live band, the story told is that of a young man (entertaining but underused illusionist Steve Dela) who wakes up in an imaginary world filled with seduction and temptation to discover he can do magic. The attempt to infuse the eclectic mix of acts with narrative thread is understandable, but the result often feels tenuous. What we get is somewhere between a traditional line up of cabaret acts and narrative theatre.

Far and away the biggest highlights of the night are provided by Kelly-Anne Gower and Rosalind James, two fantastic performers with a string of West End credits to their names. With near-flawless vocals, they hold the show together and revive proceedings whenever my interest begins to dip. Delivering popular chart hits, they are a delight to listen to and the audience respond with enthusiasm.

The dancers are strong, the choreography working the best it can in the restricted space. From burlesque to jive, the variation in style is dynamic and energised, keeping the party atmosphere intact. Another highlight is aerialist Elizabeth Williams who performs a mesmerising routine on chains suspended from the ceiling. She offers one of the rare moments of calm in the show.

At the other end of the scale, the lows feel either ill thought out or under-rehearsed. There is a ‘comedy’ (and I use that word lightly) couple who appear throughout performing slapstick mime routines that fall flat, become distracting and jars the momentum of the show. Female impersonator Miss Mince Meat who acts as Ring Master of a sort is not a big enough presence to fulfil the role effectively, though is redeemed in my eyes towards the end with an interesting performance to ‘What Makes a Man’ as he strips off his costume and dons a suit.

This is a show best enjoyed with cocktails and a large group of friends. If watched as a straight theatrical show its flaws are easy to see, but as background entertainment to a fun night out it is perfect. Rough in places though it is, overall it is charming and enjoyable, a different theatrical experience to anything I’d seen before.

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Reviewed 26/06/14

By Catherine Duffy

26th June, 27th July, 24th August 2014
Hippodrome Casino, London, WC2.

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