Sizzle at Club Swizzle

Suzanne Frost

The latest creation from the people behind award winning Australian circus-cabaret mash up ‘La Soiree’ is ‘Club Swizzle’, a heady cocktail of drag, comedy, decadence and acrobatics. The Roundhouse is transformed into the kind of speakeasy you only read about in novels, somewhere between Christopher Isherwood’s Kit Kat Club, where Cabaret star Sally Bowles used to grace the stage and, in the MC’s own words, “Cirque De So Gay”.

Club Swizzle at the Roundhouse. Photo: David Levene

Set around the concept of a bar, which transforms into a catwalk-like stage, the Swizzle Boys are equally skilled at mixing a heady cocktail for you before the show as they are jumping through hoops and building human pyramids with boyish charm and ease. While the multi-skilled boys are easily the heart of the show, most of the outrageousness comes in the shape of MC Reuben Kaye, a towering Bowie-esque, larger than life personality staggering around in massive platform heels and ‘tarantula’-lashes glued to his eyes, who sings divinely and sweats profusely.  The devilishly funny and foul-mouthed comedian is one of Club Swizzle’s greatest assets.

Reuben Kaye at Club Swizzle. Photo: Johannes Reinhart

So much of a show advertised as being cheeky and raucous depends on the comedy act and Kaye delivers from the get go, strictly shameless, no filter, adult comedy. Almost all the jokes are offensive in some way but delivered with fearless, fabulous panache. If you do not want to be publicly humiliated maybe stay away from the front rows. Then again, Club Swizzle is literally the place to forget your inhibitions, let your hair down and make fun of yourself. A word of warning for shrinking violets – this is a decidedly un-PC show with plenty of sexual innuendo, gratuitous nudity and a liberal LGBTQ sensitivity. The great thing is though, not simply using these buzzwords for marketing, Club Swizzle actually delivers a wild, sexy, raucous riot of a show. With tickets starting at only £10 you actually get a huge glitter cannon load of bang for your buck.
Laurie Hagen in Club Swizzle at the Roundhouse. Photo: David Levene

Needless to say for a show set around a bar, alcohol is firmly part of the evening and repeatedly encouraged. The Swizzle Boys juggle with cocktail shakers and find more and more outrageous ways to fill a champagne glass. Edgy burlesque performer Laurie Hagen tumbles on stage for a drunk striptease, before humiliating one male audience member with her song “All about me” and later treats the audience to her award winning reversed burlesque number, meticulously created from back-played tapes and performed with perfection. Tap-dancer Dandy Wellington does some daring jazzy routines (mixed with a twerking section), and the stunning aerialist Yammel Rodriguez performs a show stopping arial hoop number to a seductive tango from the phenomenal live band.

Club Swizzle via Instagram, (c) jorendawson

With the action happening all around you, you do get close and personal with the performers. A chiselled Swizzle Boys may land in your lap after a daring stunt and Kaye is available during the interval to pour bubbly right into your mouth. It is all dazzling, dizzying decadence, glamorous and gross, wild and wonderful. If there is anything to criticize, it could be longer. Kaye performs only one song, a surprisingly tender and melancholic moment that works its magic and leaves you wishing for more of that big beautiful voice. That’s the thing: amid all the booze and pandemonium, the performers are absolute class acts, which makes Club Swizzle a high quality hoot and simply a scandalously great night out.
Club Swizzle is still at the Roundhouse until 26 August. Tickets start at £10.

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