Reviews - - by Liam Fleming

Wunderfinger at the Wonderground

Wunderfinger at the Wonderground Baby Rude hosting Wunderfinger [Photo: John Wilson]

If religion is the opiate of the masses, then Cabaret is the opiate of the disillusioned. Those who want an escape from the mundanity of modern life come inside a Spiegel Tent to forget all your problems by indulging in the debauchery that lies inside. Wunderfinger isn’t your average cabaret, it takes the sex, the filth and the personal connections and amps them up to the nth degree.

The format of the evening ran very similarly to that of a variety show. Different performers, specialising in different disciplines perform one after the other with a compere linking everything together. Our compere for the evening was Baby Lame. A large, bearded enigma of a human who, standing at over 6 feet tall, still wears platform boots, but when he’s also wearing a leather mini skirt, ripped tights and a furry bra (with make-up straight out of Rob Zombie’s ‘House of 1000 Corpses’) the boots just seem par for the course. Baby Lame is a marmite act. You’ll either get swept up in their intense, shrill voiced delivery or it will grate on you. The latter seemed to be more true as the night went on. Though there were moments of great humour, the compere didn’t quite hit the mark.

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Fire Eating Photo: (Photo credit: John Wilson)

Each act was entirely unique and impressive. Every time we thought we’d found our favourite part, the next act would come on and wow us even more. The show’s first performer was Pi the Mime. Clad in a skin-tight, black and white striped leotard with the mime artists full white face and a tremendous moustache. Pi defies gender and is both masculine and feminine as he dances around the stage to ‘Hit the Road Jack’. Pi performs a beautiful fusion of Cabaret and Mime, mixing together the showmanship of Mime with the cheekiness of Cabaret. His second act then becomes more glamourous and features him in a silk gown, smoking a cigarette, performing a chair dance. Definitely the sexiest Mime we’ve ever seen.

The show tries to include a narrative in between acts which is a shame. It is where the show lets itself down. There is enough going on without the need for a story and the dialogue between characters was uneven due to the improvised nature of Cabaret. The show works far better when the audience can enjoy the performers in their own right and it got confusing when an act was announced as a headliner and they came on second.

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Pi The Mime [Photo credit: John Wilson]

One of the highlights of the show was Lily Snatchdragon. Her vocals were excellent and she had a standout skill in getting the audience involved in one of the most original acts in the show. We don’t want to give anything away but let’s just say; Sexy, Burlesque, Ewok! Next was Kiki Lovechild who’s innocent charm and ability to morph into famous people with just a piece of white cloth (we’re talking Kylie to Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music to a Baby to Napoleon to Lady Gaga) stole our hearts. Kiki is a wonderful clown that smacks of the black and white films of old. His physicality is simple and fluid and his enjoyment of what he does shines through brightly. His final piece revolved around catching a butterfly for a loved one and involved him climbing over audience members to catch it to great comedic effect but it also included some heart-felt moments and culminated in a magical moment where butterflies filled the stage and seemed to come to life.

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Kiki Lovechild entertaining the audience [Photo credit: John Wilson]

Finally, Lady Fingerbang’s graceful performance involved suspension and dance with silks and a metal ring suspended from the ceiling. The physical strain on the body must be intense when holding yourself up, 20 feet in the air whilst also performing the splits, but Lady Fingerbang did it without batting an eyelid. Her poise is what makes her sexy and what made for a brilliant headline act.

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Lady Fingerbang entrancing the audience. [Photo credit: John Wilson]

Wunderfinger is many things. On the surface it could just be seen as a sex-filled romp. A good way to spend an hour if you like a bit of tantalisation. But if you go in just for that, you’re going to be surprised. There are real moments of connectivity between people. They are genuine. The performers seem to care about you and each other under the façade of naughtiness. It goes even further to prove that art forms like Cabaret, Burlesque and Clown are underrated and are far more versatile than people give them credit for.

Wunderfinger returns to the South Bank Wonderland on Tuesday 16th August.

Find out more on the website


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