REVIEW: Cabaret Impedimenta @ Bosco Spiegeltent

May 27, 2024

Cabaret Impedimenta

Bosco Tent

Fasten your sequins as I spill some hot tea to about Cabaret Impedimenta at the Bosco Tent, Brighton Fringe. If you’re envisioning a well-organized, seamless cabaret night, think again. This was less a show and more a circus where the clowns didn’t get the memo to stay in their own ring.

The concept? Fringe acts trying to perform while being constantly interrupted, distracted, upstaged, and undermined by bizarre characters played by other stand-up comedians. Yes, the point was chaos, and trust me, they nailed that. This impossible variety show is created & hosted by John-Luke Roberts.

Now, I got the joke. I really did. The deliberate anarchy, the comedic sabotage—it was all meant to be hilarious. But let’s be honest, just because you understand a joke doesn’t mean it’s funny. Most of the humor tripped over its own feet and fell flat on the sticky tent floor.

The audience, though, bless their tipsy hearts, were living for it. A packed house, mostly drunk and absolutely ready for whatever madness the night threw at them. They laughed, they cheered, they sung along to Terry Wogan and they were definitely more entertained by their own revelry than by the show itself.

And then, like a fabulous phoenix rising from the ashes of this hot mess, Jo Black appeared. Darling, Jo Black didn’t just perform; they obliterated the stage. With all guns blazing, Jo owned that floor and gave us a performance that had me momentarily forgetting the rest of the chaos. It was a masterclass in how to command a room, even one as unruly as this. Even he eventually gave up, but didn’t give in, he just gave his audience back to the chaos.

But let’s not get carried away. Overall, Cabaret Impedimenta was, shall we say, not very good. The whole schtick of constant interruptions meant that no act or saboteur really got the time to shine. Yes, the point was the chaos, but when the chaos overshadows any semblance of talent or coherent entertainment, it’s a problem. From a critical perspective it’s an interesting deconstruction of confidence, wit and understanding how to work an audience that’s baying for humiliation, and also a curious observation in which performers are too polite and which are ruthless enough to allow their own ego to dominate.

I am guessing this is a bit of cult festival night, with an obvious  good following, as the tent was full, and utterly depends on the quality and ability of the acts trying to perform their sets on the night. A bit more fight from the line up tonight would have made it more entertaining.

In conclusion, if you’re in it for a wild, booze-fueled night with a crowd that’s more entertaining than the stage, and if you’re lucky enough to witness Jo Black in their element, then maybe—just maybe—it’s worth your time. But don’t say I didn’t warn you: the chaos is real, and it’s not always pretty.

More info about the show here and you can check out the rest of the line up at Brighton Spiegeltent here.