Spicy, saucy and more than a little naughty

6 July 2023

Punching well above its weight, Club D’amour combines the intimacy of a small-scale cabaret show with the impact of a blockbuster. Kim Balfour is entranced.

Club D’Amour, Tone & Cheek
The Rechabite, 5 July 2023

The performers may be West Australian but Tone & Cheek’s Club D’amour takes audiences on a tantalising voyage into a back-alley French brothel nestled deep in the red-light district of Paris.

In a format familiar to fans of Fringe-style cabaret/burlesque performances, the Club D’Amour cast deliver their routines with mischievous, effervescent, risqué wit at a whip-cracking pace.

A blend of cabaret, burlesque, circus and live music, Club D’Amour is billed as drawing inspiration from Moulin Rouge, 50 Shades of Grey, and Rocky Horror. But the show is greater than the sum of its influences, using multiple movement styles, formats, and aesthetics to create a highly charged, dopamine-boosting entertainment experience.

A breathtaking aerial hoop sequence by Melina Mall and Natalie Oakes. Photo: K Darius

For a small-scale show comprised of seven performers, Club D’amour maintains a churn of visual eye candy in the form of costumes, sets, lighting, sound and music. Thumping remixes of well-known tracks and beautiful live vocals enhance the acrobatic debauchery of the cast. A warning: the intermittent strobe effect featured in a number of the acts could be a bit much for some.

Award-winning seductress of mystery, Fay “not a dry seat in the house” Rocious, leads the cast on their virtuosic, lascivious journey to erotic salvation. Between cheeky audience interactions, salacious quips on current affairs, and her titillating onstage antics, Fay Rocious ensures there’s never a dull moment.

The show’s allure can be attributed not just to its erotic framing, but to the mesmerising displays of physical theatre, gymnastics, aerial work and dance. The complex and novel sequences of aerial work by both Anthony Tran and Matthew Pope are breathtaking, as is the duo aerial hoop sequence by Melina Mall and Natalie Oakes.

Contemporary dancer Linton Elethios brings an infectious puppy dog energy to the stage, in more ways than one, while singer, dancer and actress Tory Kendrick imbues the evening with a sultry sensuality. Each performer brings their own energy and personality to the stage, and the chemistry between the performers is evident, enhancing the steamy atmosphere of the show.

Club D’Amour has the feel of a larger production while maintaining a level of intimacy, immersive and transfixing. The show addresses topics often deemed taboo while maintaining a sense of inclusivity (Fay frequently checking in on the “straights”); it embraces queer themes and explores the different forms love, gender and sexuality can take, while keeping a diverse audience in mind.

From within this atmosphere, the cast seamlessly braid kink, fetish, seduction, love, lust and fast-paced ribald comedy into an hour of thrilling fun, decadence, and taboo. The scintillating cast thrilled the opening night audience, leaving us in no doubt as to why the show has garnered multiple festival awards.

If you love circus, cabaret and burlesque, Club D’amour is sure to seduce you. Like a flail to the backside, the show is a short, sharp and thrilling ride, and an inclusive celebration of embracing and running with your desires.

Club D’Amour continues at The Rechabite until 8 July.

Pictured top: The scintillating cast of Club D’amour. Photo: K Darius

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Author —
Kim Balfour

Kim Balfour is a writer and former professional dancer, who has danced with companies such as WA Ballet and Sydney Dance Company. Kim has worked as a freelance writer for more than 15 years, including the role of dance writer for The West Australian newspaper. In 2020, Kim was selected as a writer-in-residence at the Centre for Stories, and is writing a work of creative nonfiction on gender identity and expression in dance. As a child Kim was sometimes seen sitting on a gently spinning playground carousel, deep in thought, staring at her feet as they dragged along the ground.

Past Articles

  • Beauty and tragedy echo from canvas to stage

    WA Ballet’s inventive and impressionistic take on the life of Vincent Van Gogh captures the colour and movement of his work, writes Kim Balfour.

  • A tale of two longer haunts

    Will two successful short dance works stand up to being revived and extended for West Australian Ballet’s 2023 STATE program? Kim Balfour finds out.

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