0 7 mins 2 mths

Time for something completely different – and, no, it’s not Monty Python but it is pretty damned funny at times. Comedy, burlesque, magic, circus – this show had it all as the fabulous Hundred Watt Club returned to the Gloucester Guildhall for the first of 4 visits this year.

For those that don’t know, the show is run by Lena Lenman, a burlesque star, comedian, songstress ably accompanied by her other half, stage manager, sweep and general clearer upper Jamie Lenman (a very good musician in his own right) along with a group of entertainers that made the audience laugh, cringe, stamp their feet, clap their hands and, once or twice, gasp in amazement at the performances. Lena has numerous guises including Cheryl Coal, Auntie Mae The Sisters Dare (with Chi Chi Revolver who was also here tonight) and some additions this year which will include Wayne’s World, Beverley Hills and, an act I’m waiting to see, Lena’s take on Metropolis adapted from Fritz Lang’s 1927 film.

The supporting actors change for each show and tonight we were entertained by MC, Eva Von Schnippisch – the Weimar Wunderkind, Chi Chi Revolver, circus strongman Sir Leopold Aleksander, Miss Cocoa Amore and minxy newcomer the Ember Fox.

‘Allo ‘allo, the show gets underway with Eva Von Schnippisch taking the stage with a song, some cheeky commentary about her German heritage (yeah, right!) and light hearted banter before introducing the first of tonight’s guests, the rather curvaceous burlesquer Cocoa Amore – oh to be that office chair!

If you want some risqué cabaret and comedy this is the show for you. Mind you, if you want what was once described as a tacky unpleasant show for tacky unpleasant people then this is also the show for you!

Fraulein Von Schnippisch returns briefly to introduce the next act, the gentleman charmer, circus strongman, Sir Leopold Aleksander. With his horseshoe twisting routine interspersed with constant banter he tried to charm anyone who’d listen to him, which happened to be most, if not all, of the audience.

It was newbie time. Relative newcomer Ember Fox was next with her minxy, fun-loving attitude she graced the burlesque stage in blue chiffon – well, blue chiffon for a short time anyway! A great new face (and other bits) to add to the burlesque scene, she breezed around the stage with a determined feistiness.

Fraulein Eva returns once more displaying even more of her unsculptured bush (you had to be there to appreciate it) while providing a song and a sneer before introducing the wonderful Sisters Dare. The was a magic act, quite literally, put together by Lena Lenman and Chi Chi Revolver the latter of whom was cajoled into getting into a large stage trunk with her hands firmly tied behind her back before being locked into the trunk. With Lena standing on the box she draws up a large cover and hey presto, as if by magic, Chi Chi Revolver appears in her place. You’ll never guess where Lena is – well, you will if you’ve seen similar acts of such amazement previously! Sure enough, unlocking the box reveals on Lena Lenman to rapturous applause. I have to say that Chi Chi Revolver has the most expressive face I’ve seen in ages and while these two can be very funny in theor own right, together they are completely nuts!

With a flash of stockinged thigh and un-coiffured nether regions, Eva Von Schnippisch returns to tell everyone to bugger off and get ein bier, there’s a half hour interlude coming imminently.

The second half starts as the first half did, with Eva Von Schnippisch opening proceedings before Lena comes back with her rumbunctious duvet cover (yes, go and look up ‘rumbunctious’!). This is a lovely flowing act, one I’d seen before, it’s almost hypnotic; what I hadn’t seen before was Lena almost get suffocated by said duvet cover as it wrapped itself around her. Fortunately she was able to fight her way out otherwise I think we’d have had a queue to give her the kiss of life.

Here’s Eva – back again with another short intro, this time it’s for Cocoa Amore’s second act. With more curves than a mountain pass Cocoa spread herself across the stage as the outfit somehow managed to lose most of it’s pieces leaving not an awful lot <grin>.

With his chain-snapping, bar bending, handcuff trashing, watermelon smashing act, Sir Leopold Aleksander returned to the foray. The highlight of this part of his act was the headbutting of an innocent watermelon. I don’t what it had said to him but it ended up smashed on the stage, off the stage and into the front row. A major clear-up job for stage manager Jamie ensued!

Fraulein Eva returns once more to introduce what is to be the final performance of the night but not before she spends most of the time on her knees(!) trying not to show off too much of her ‘foo foo’ – although I doubt there was anybody left in the audience that hadn’t already seen it!

The final performance of the night was a solo Chi Chi Revolver hula-hoop act, mostly played in the dark with flashy hoops and other bits of her costume, what there was of it, that also lit up.

The evening closes with one final song from Fraulein Eva before she wishes everybody a fond farewell. This was another fabulously funny night out and one that the folks around Gloucester SHOULD NOT miss in the future.

. . . . and just for your entertainment, here’s a few extra pictures to whet your appetite!

Words & images: Reg Richardson