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Blanc de Blanc Encore

Blanc de Blanc Encore

Created by Scott Maidment

Producers: Strut & Fret

Photo credit: Carly Sare

The Grand Electric 199 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills until March 4

Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP

Blanc de Blanc Encore

The Grand Electric is Sydney’s latest purpose-decorated theatrical venue. In the 1980s it was The Performance Space, one of the grottiest theatrical venues in Sydney. It went dark for a few years and then became the Giant Dwarf that staged student improv shows.

Production house Strut & Fret has made the venue unrecognisable, in a good way. It now looks like a French cabaret hall. The old, small proscenium arch stage projects into the auditorium and has a semi-circular apron. The use of bentwood chairs for the seating gives the space versatility and adds to the atmosphere. For the current show, the performing areas are the main stage, a smaller, circular stage in the audience, the mezzanine level and all parts of the auditorium.

Blanc de Blanc Encore, includes burlesque, cabaret, dance, acrobatics, vaudeville and the circus arts, and why wouldn't it? Some of the cast are Cirque du Soleil alumni.

MCs Rémi Martin Lenz and Felix Pouliot opened the show and after a few minutes the pace quickened. The two demonstrated their broad experience in the circus arts.

This production is REALLY interactive. A feathered cushion fight involved the entire audience.

The flexible pole routines had the performers flying at speed within a metre of some members of the audience, and individual spectators were invited to be part the show.

Rechelle Mansour and her powerful voice did the heavy lifting when it came to the songs. There was some lip-syncing by the other performers and some modern, rap-type music but it didn’t detract too much from the mood.

Caitlin Tomson-Moylan and Spencer Craig masterfully executed the solo and dual aerial hoop routines.

One of the circular stage bits reminded me of Fifi L'Amour from Cabaret Conspiracy. Dancer Melanie Hawkins looks to have been inspired by the legendary pin-up, Bettie Page.

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A recording of Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien played while Rémi Martin Lenz played his penis. Yes, he accompanied the popular Piaf song with his penis.

There are some stocking-fillers in this show, some of which might have allowed time to set up the next acts, and one longer bit relied entirely on the the MCs’ comedic skills to engage the audience.

After the intermission, the show clicked up a couple of gears.

For me, the

most impressive highlight of the show was the performance by Emma Phillips whose routine was classic Peking Opera. The tradition is that the female students learn certain skills and males learn other techniques, although there is some cross-over. Phillips’ foot juggling of a wooden table, cushions and parasols is breath-taking and she has attained a level that is at least the equal of any other performers that I’ve seen. Male students of Peking Opera have included Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung.

The international cast contains some of the finest dancers and circus performers in the world, and the “wow” moments are elevated because of the close proximity of the audience to the performing areas.

Members of the audience are even invited to be in cast photographs after the performance.

It should be mentioned that if male and female nudity offends you, you should think twice about seeing this show. If it doesn’t, you’ll experience an enjoyable, engaging and stimulating evening of entertainment.

Blanc de Blanc Encore runs until March 4 and I’m already looking forward to seeing what Strut & Fret comes up with next.


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