Proud’s City outpost established itself two years ago at No.1 Mark Lane after extensive refurbishment from Alex Proud and his wife Danielle, a renowned interior designer. Visitors may be surprised by the relatively short period that it has been open because it fits so comfortably into the surrounding area.
And that’s the great thing about Proud Cabaret City: it’s comfortable, unpretentious and, overall, bloody good fun.
Be ready to be transported right back to 1920’s Weimar Germany. The smooth, smokey atmosphere echoes traditional speakeasies, but with a slightly more jovial feel. What you’ll notice as soon as you walk in is how accommodating the staff are. An eclectic and interesting mix of individuals who aren’t afraid to be on the right side of cheeky and the best kind of polite. If you draw nothing else from the evening, they will make you feel as if you have been properly looked after. On front of house is Joe Morose, or as he describes himself, ‘The bastard lovechild of Willy Wonka and Keith Richards’. A bundle of talent and quick wit with a disarming persona, Morose is a valuable asset to the show. The room itself, with a 220 person capacity, is of a good size, though it’s doubtful that the people at the very back would have properly appreciated the performances. The plush velvet booths are extremely comfortable however and it isn’t too crowded. Just try and get a front row seat.
Of the entire evening, the only thing that disappointed was the food. It was a shame to blot an otherwise excellent evening with something so petty as overcooked duck or tasteless remoulade but, as everything else was so enjoyable, dinner stood out as being notably sub-par in quality. Thankfully the starters were the low point of the meal with a very dry Duck Confit and overly sweet Devon Crab and Apple Remoulade. The mains were much better but still failed to overwhelm. The Pork Belly with Parsnip Mash was satisfyingly hearty. The Gurnard Fillet, Cockles and Saffron Cowder did not have the plurality of cockles that the name suggested, but was otherwise very good. Desserts were also satisfactory and the Lemon Posset was very pleasant.
The background to the evening is a tongue in cheek, Sin City styled manhunt, in which Teddy the Detective investigates the murder of his beau, Miss Scarlet. Right from the start it’s clear that the show isn’t going to take itself seriously, catering to hen parties and stag dos that the club often attracts. The compere, Mister Meredith, is very rude and very funny. He sings, he jokes, he is unashamedly coarse. He knows exactly what he’s doing and it’s hard to see how anyone could top it. Do check out his website here: mistermeredith.co.uk/About.html.
The first performer, male acrobat Michael Standen, impressed the audience with his extraordinarily athletic and seductive chair striptease and later on with more gymnastics, made all the more nail-biting for the apparently unstable nature of his apparatus. Next on was the experienced, raven haired burlesque performer Betsie Bonbon, followed by beautiful, blonde Ruby Deshabille. Finishing the first act was the captivating Missy Fatale. Although all three performed very similar acts, the differences in their personalities made each of them entrancing to watch. Betsie Bonbon’s natural charisma was visible both during and after her performance (where she remained charming and gracious). She is a performer who has brought her like-ability with her onto the stage. Ruby Deshabille, in constrast, mainitained an ice cold and alluring gaze that is perhaps more expected from burlesque performers. Her graceful and elegant movement around the stage was equally as beautiful as that of Betsie but the iciness of her manner did not fit quite so well with the atmosphere of the venue as Betsie’s had. However, Missy Fatale, with her extraordinary beauty and masterful control of her body, is the real highlight of the show. Although all the performances in the first act (with the exception of Michael Standen) seemed a little too similar, once the climax of the show began it became clear that it had merely been a showcase before the three ladies displayed their full talents. Betsie once again dazzled the audience with a flamboyant display of blue, white and red; Ruby teased and tantalized with huge feather fans; but Missy Fatale, who is also a fire performer, gave a majestic, exciting and unforgettable finale.
Food aside, Proud Cabaret City offers a wonderful and enjoyable evening. Suitable for those looking for a relaxed and entertaining evening. It’s your best bet for a first introduction into the world of cabaret.
The Silencing of Miss Scarlet takes place every Friday but also have a look at the Kit Kat Club on Saturdays. Proud Cabaret City’s website can be found here: www.proudcabaretcity.com.