Much like the first sip of a glass of expensive champagne, Blanc de Blanc begins elegantly. And by the end of the night – and bottom of the bottle – formality (and a fair amount of clothing) has been essentially dispensed with.
Blanc de Blanc is a cleverly crafted and beautifully designed show by Strut and Fret Production House. The show comes alive within a Spiegeltent; a lusciously draped, hand-made wooden masterpiece, a throwback to travelling venues from the early twentieth century. Set with mirrors and stained glass, the venue itself reflects Phillip Gladwell’s colourful lighting design, making the space feel larger than it is.
Director Scott Maidment carefully builds tension and loosens the reins of the performers as the evening progresses. The show’s Master of Ceremonies, Monsieur Romeo, woos the ladies of the audience with his tuxedo and languid french drawl while the women in the cast dance, sing, drape themselves over audience members and take to the air in stunning acrobatic displays. Masha Terentieva’s luggage trolley display sets an extremely high standard. A modern mixed clowning / contortionist performance by star of the evening Spencer Novich holds the audience silenced, riveted.
Performers Hampus Jansson and Milena Straczynski have the crowd a little hot under the collar with their athletic and intimate aerial display. A married couple in real life, the chemistry between the impossibly attractive pair is sizzling to watch. Without wanting to give away too many of the naughty surprises in store for lucky ticket holders, let’s just say I’ll be thinking of performer Emma Maye Gibson, Fearless Mistress of Raunch, every time I light a sparkler. Probably for the rest of my life.
Staging and costuming is spot on, with the ye-olde-worlde theming carried through to corset and garter belts, white powdered faces and cupid’s bows mouths. Glitter and bubbles, a million bottles of champagne and a very literal bubbling suprise in the second half complete what is a truly colour-drenched, decadent spectacle with more than a hint of sauce. Musical Director Steve Toulmin has outdone himself with a pumping soundtrack that alternates bass-heavy dance and cheeky cabaret; a mix of electronic samples throughout keeps the performers (and the crowd) on their toes.
In its sixth year, Bleach* Festival is still managing to present art which both delights and challenges its audience. Blanc de Blanc is a high-end swingers party to which we are all invited as voyeurs for the night. It’s a feast for the eyes and ears, at times uncomfortable, and always thrilling. One leaves the world reluctantly, tipsy, with the taste of a precious vintage lingering on the palate.
Blanc de Blanc runs for the entire Bleach* Festival, closing 16 April, tickets are selling quickly. Visit blancshow.com to book.
IMAGE (c) Pamela Raith Photography