Reviews/Cabaret/Fringe World Festival

Smokin’ hot

6 February 2018

Fringe World review: Club Swizzle ·
The Ice Cream Factory, 4 February ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

While a disused factory might not seem like the obvious venue to convert for a cabaret show, the production and design team of Club Swizzle have managed to recreate the underground atmosphere of a 1930s night-club. Entering the building, one peers through the dimly lit, ruby red haze to discover that the seating seems to be arranged around a bar rather than a stage. The mystery only adds to the glamour.

And it’s warm. As MC Reuben Kaye observes, it’s “a corrugated-iron oven of a venue”, which, though not totally comfortable, completes the transition nicely. It’s also appropriate for a show that is steamy in more senses than one.

For Club Swizzle is certainly not for the faint-hearted. It’s a romp… an R-rated romp. Like its sister show, the hugely popular La Soiree, Club Swizzle is all about variety, and that variety has a distinctly naughty streak (that’s a touch more explicit than its sibling, if my memory serves me correctly).

At the epicentre of this naughtiness is Reuben Kaye, MC. All lashes and brocade, sparkles and cuff-links, Kaye delights in gender fluidity… in more senses than one. This MC’s outrageous wit is the highlight of the show.

Swizzle Boys
Bartenders who shake their drinks in acrobatic ways: the Swizzle Boys. Photo: Prudence Upton.

And that’s saying something because the acts are excellent. The Swizzle Boys (Benjamin Lewis, Simon McClure, Will Underwood and Joren Dawson) are bartenders who somersault and catapult through the air as they shake and stir their cocktails. Their numerous (and much-applauded) appearances are interspersed with all sorts of characters; a roller-skating waitress, a drunken stripper, a cigar-smoking aerialist, a sultry but strangely robotic dancer. The dapper tapper and singer Dandy Wellington was a crowd favourite with his fast moving feet, as was Amy G, whose rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” gives new meaning to the concept of patriotism.

It’s all backed by live jazz band the Unexpected Perks, who keep the pace jumping, whether it’s big-band style with trombones and tuba, or the more sentimental accordion and violin.

While the production was, for the most part, super slick (and not just from various liquids being sprayed carelessly over the punters at the front tables), occasionally it was hard to hear lyrics/lines due to sound distortion.

Because everything about Club Swizzle is pushed to the maximum – from the sound levels to the dirty jokes.

The result? Maximum entertainment.

But leave the kids at home.


Club Swizzle plays the Ice Cream Factory until February 25. 

Read Seesaw’s Q&A with Dandy Wellington here.

Pictured top is the outrageously funny Reuben Kaye with the Swizzle Boys. Photo: Hamish McCormick.

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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