Cab Suave (Sparkle Society)
The Ron Hurley Theatre
January 21 – 22
In a twist to traditional cabaret fare, Sparkle Society’s “Cab Suave” promises a film noir-themed circus show. The premise is introduced immediately as our narrator, Private Investigator Dick Johnson (Jack Wilde) tells us of the greatest case he has ever worked, at Cabaret Suave, a questionable establishment run by four scandalous dames (Winter Chapman, Abby Kelso, Laney Mejias and Latonya Wigginton). From here the story isn’t exactly prominent, but it barely matters as its stylish aesthetic is what operates at the show’s forefront.
In true film noir style, our narrator is trench-coated against threat of prevailing darkness, the contrast between light and dark coming with the circus performances that follow in the tight 60-minute show. Amazing acrobatics and impressive circus tricks include exciting aerial silk work that sees Kelso striking stunning poses and spiralling her body into and out of various positions before wrapping herself high up on the silks and dramatically falling towards the ground, a showcase of static trapeze skills from Latonya Wigginton and group acro-balancing to affirm the strength and skill of the pyramid of performers.
One of many particularly memorable moments comes courtesy of a hoop routine that sees Kelso atop Wigginton’s shoulders, while both are spinning hula hoops around their waists, however, balance, poise and coordination are on show throughout, including as Wilde impresses with some circus fare though a juggling routine that graduates to him throwing blades while balancing on a free-standing ladder. And Mejias brings the cabaret as the show’s provocative songstress, including through providing a feverish accompaniment to Chapman’s exciting fire twirling routines.
Costumes are fitting with the vintage aesthetic, while live music both transports audiences back in sensibility and enlivens things from a modern perspective. Indeed, the sultry feel of classic film noir is elevated by the show’s dynamic soundtrack, which culminates with infectious reminder that a little party to never killed nobody. Touches of humour, too, add to the engagement, notably through the detective’s comic timing of his increasingly hyperbolic descriptive commentary about his clients.
Sparkle Society, which was founded in 2019 by established circus performers and this show’s directors Wigginton and Kelso, has been waiting through COVID delays to finally commence what will be a show tour to festivals in Melbourne and Adelaide, and, as audiences at Brisbane’s preview season can attest, it has certainly been worth the wait. While Cab Suave’s distinct identity is certainly interesting, it is ultimately its exciting circus performances that resonate most in testament to the demands of the artform and the high degree of strength, power, flexibility, courage, stamina, and grace of its practitioners.