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Review: Catherine Hoffmann, Liselle Terret & Norvil & Josephine

On a dreary, wet, Friday night, The Front Room served up an eclectic menu of fringe frivolity.

For starters Catherine Hoffmann burst on stage as her drag alter ego Angus Chai. In sparkly red sequin jacket and dark sunglasses, they performed a ‘Tool Anthology’ of songs based on DIY. With the assistance of a loop pedal and some thumping beats, Angus shared their love of spirit levels and orbital sanders. Observations of the many uses of WD40 – including making a game of Twister more challenging – raised laughter from the crowd and the show ended in a climax of glow sticks and raving.

The main course turned out to be centred around a shopping list from ASDA as Liselle Terret’s ‘Chatterbox’ took to the stage inside a giant red top hat. As the hat whirled and twirled around, the nervy voice from inside grew increasingly anxious over completing the mundane task of grocery shopping. An omniscient supermarket tannoy announcer kept the character trapped in their reality and I was left wondering what could have been if the performance had slipped more fully into the fantasy world suggested by the wonderfully mad-capped millinery.

For dessert we enjoyed the seemingly sugary-sweet Norvil & Josephine; a magical comedy duo with a twist where the doting magician’s assistant emerged to reclaim the limelight. Classic illusions, such as the pole levitation trick, were given a feminist update as Josephine explained to Norvil that the broom she balanced on, was a symbol of women’s oppression she would overcome. With tongues firmly in cheek, the pair made us question not only what our eyes could believe, but also our expectations of the power dynamics at play.

All in all, a wonderfully surreal spread to satisfy adventurous palates!

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