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A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!




Boom Boom Club presents


Prospero's Tavern



Directed by Dusty Limits



Priceless London Wonderground
8 May - 30 Sept 2012


Priceless London Wonderground is a merry pocket of carnival magic by the Thames at the Southbank Centre and promises to offer a festival of cabaret, circus and sideshow all summer long. An immersive escapist experience from the first meander through the spacious grounds, fever pitch is just a “Starflier” ride or a Davy Jones’ lock-in away.

At the Boom Boom Club, Guests join an adventurous cast who have all been shipwrecked at one time or another and found their way to “Prospero’s Tavern” at the end of the world. Entering a dimly lit tent with red upholstery and a worn stage, the sense of intrigue and suspense is heightened by the various acts mingling, flirting and building rollicking rapport with the audience. Prospero (Jonny Woo) needs no introduction and were he to remain silent his beguiling stage-presence and outrageous outfits would do the talking for him, but he makes himself known and begins the Tempest-inspired narrative with which he will lead the evening. Referring to Shakespeare as comically familiar “Bill”, Prospero sets the irreverent tone of events before introducing the most colourful cast of characters likely to be found collected anywhere in London this summer.

So and so Circus, dressed as sailors, perform a wonderfully athletic fight routine during which they take airing dirty laundry in public to a whole new level and throw each other around in ways the rest of us mere mortals can only fantasise about. Up and Over It embrace the nautical idea, entering to the Titanic theme tune before giving their arms and feet a monumentally rhythmic bashing during a piece they have devised just for Prospero’s Tavern. In-tavern band, Uberkaboom, provide rousing musical accompaniment to the show and for many of the acts, significantly enhancing the delivery of an already consuming evening.

In a puntastic move, infinitely suffering Tavern cleaner Ariel is played by aerialist Katherine Arnold. With a comically despondent gait she is pushed around with a mop by Prospero throughout the show and resignedly collects the props and clothing left in the wake of the acts which precede her show-stopping finale.  Kitty Kitty Bang Bang is Prospero’s cat, and emerges from a small basket in a flash of sequins and talons. So bright is her costume in the burning lights that some front row attendees have to shield their eyes from the glare - this is a passing worry though, as her outfit is reduced to some carefully placed paw prints in a matter of moments.

The disillusioned musings of Phil Kay are delivered with his own guitar accompaniment and salacious wit. Wearing a battered suit with the remnants of ill-gotten gains sewn onto it, he delighted, with his satirical dressing-down of bankers and impromptu inclusion of some ecstatic front-row attendees. Lucky Franco, as Prospero’s rowdy daughter, puts in a committed drunken act. She makes herself known from the front row by heckling her father throughout his first introductions. Then, given the stage to do with what she will and aided by eye watering flexibility, she contorts herself around the stage, smoking and boozing in all manner of awkward positions, having forsaken modesty at the door. The Late Night Shop Cabaret, in sensational costumes, bring their very own brand of debauched glamour to the party, carousing around Wonderground long before “Prospero’s Tavern” doors open.

With changing acts and audiences, no two nights at Prospero’s will be the same. Indeed, the transient nature of the experience is encouraged wholeheartedly. It seems fitting during a catastrophically erratic summer when every opportunity for revelry must be grasped with both hands that Boom Boom Club, in a delightful venue, should present itself at Southbank.



Ticket enquiries: 0844 545 8282

Tickets £20 - £25

Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX


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