Gymnastics! Masterful athleticism! Semi-nude stripping! All of these amazing things were present in EMPIRE, an acro-cabaret variety show hosted by Spiegelworld. From an impressive post-punk tent, to urban New York street relics (neon street signs, mechanical animals and such) the set displayed signs of a very promising night – they even went as far as modeling a small speak-easy bar at the entrance! The stage itself was a mere three meters in diameter, with a volume of seats ranging from stage-front tables to booths in the back parts of the tent.
Although EMPIRE lacked a plot or any correlative performances, each act reflected some form of political commentary about New York City. In a pleasantly creative manner, each act was accompanied by some form of song, performed live (in most instances) by Miss Purple’s (Tessa Alves) smoky vocals and Moon Dog’s (Aurelien Budynek) shredding of the guitar. Each of the performers was dressed in some representative garb, ranging from the humorous ridiculousness of Oscar the Impresario’s (Don Colliver) Lady Liberty dress, to Miss-in-a-Bubble’s (Lucia Carbines) sexy American swimsuit-lingerie.
I think what fascinated me most, as far as political commentary goes, was Oscar and Fanny’s (Jamie Franta) burlesque act, where the two found an “unsuspecting member of the audience,” performed a strip-tease for him, and concluded with Oscar next to molesting him. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but to me it reflected a comment about modern over-sexualization to the point of discomfort. Throughout the act, Fanny tried to “put herself out” as much as possible to the audience member (let’s call him Audience). What really stood out was that Fanny really was not good at it – intentionally! She overdid all of the moves, stepped over Audience’s comfort zone, and kept clumsily falling across the stage. By the end, Oscar pushed her aside and, in a flash (hah!) started air-humping Audience. An extremely eloquent performance, but then again, maybe I’m reading too much into it.
One performance that both stood out and impressed me the most was the Roller Skates Act by Polka Dot Woman (Mariia Beseimbetova) and Blue Tarpoleon (Denis Petaov). Danced to Miss Purple’s serenading of Clarity by Zedd, the two expressed amazing roller-bladed feats on a mere three-meter stage. What was even more impressive was Petaov’s physical strength and balance on skates, while swinging Beseimbetova FROM HIS NECK (at one point their necks were connected through a leather collar)! A combination of intimate dance and amazing song, this piece was definitely my favourite act out of similarly fascinating performances.
EMPIRE lasts until Oct. 18, so if you’re ready to get freaky, and are over 18, head over there now! For more info visit http://spiegelworld.ca/the-show/.