cabaret: le gateau chocolat - black

adelaide cabaret festival: le gateau chocolat - black
Le Gateau Chocolat has been wowing Adelaide crowds since his first solo Fringe show in 2011 but this is the first time he's been invited to be part of the Cabaret Festival, and I personally think that it's about damn time.

The show he brought to the festival, Black, is a dark show... in all senses of the word. It's also the most personal, most revealing, most adult and without doubt the bravest show he's ever done... and one of the bravest shows I've ever seen.

Black is about the colour of his skin and his identity, the songs and performers he's chosen, but it's also about the absence of light (both literally and metaphorically) and, at it's core, Black also represents the spectre of depression.

As I said, this is such a brave show... and Chocolat has already presented two very brave and personal shows, Icons and Duckie, but Black lays his soul very, very bare. As such, it's a very different show from any of his others... this feels (and, to be honest, is) much more of a one man musical play, and in a lot of ways actually felt like the very "grown-up" version of Duckie.

What I hope though is that there is eventually a companion piece to this, Light, if you will... that tells the other half of the story, how Chocolat and his onstage avatar Little Black manage to both realise their dreams of being the big black opera diva but also make the lightbulb of his happiness shine as bright as it possibly can do, bathing that stage in light.

Also, the story of Little Black which is shown throughout the show with beautiful animated artwork and a voice over that sounded strangely familiar (Johnny Woo maybe?) really moved me to tears, but also made me want the story to be finished and turned into a children's book... I want it on my bookshelf but I also want to buy a copy for every parent I know.

I also feel like this is the first time I've had the opportunity to hear Le Gateau Chocolat perform in "real" venue... and I know I've gushed about his voice every time I've had the pleasure of seeing him perform, but having him command the stage on the Dunstan Playhouse was a whole new level. Even the opening number which was entirely in German (I think) and hence a complete mystery to me was so beautifully performed and stunning to listen to.

He also commanded that stage in a way I've never seen him do before... don't get me wrong, he's charmed audiences before, but this time there were points where you knew that the audience wanted to applaud, but the show and Chocolat wouldn't let them (it also did feel a little weird at times wanting to applaud such raw emotions, so I'm happy the show was actually arranged the way that it was)... he held over 600 people in the palm of his hand for the entire run time of the show, knowing exactly how to twist and turn and caress us all until we were totally at his mercy.

And speaking of the Playhouse, the lighting design has to be mentioned... Black is a dark show as I mentioned, not just in tone but literally quite dark, with the lighting used very sparingly and at times to great effect.

Which isn't to say that the show is without lighter moments... from the tips for fat people to the brilliant NHS Direct song to the hilarious introduction to I Wanna Dance With Somebody (although the way he finishes that song absolutely WRECKS me every time), but this really is an emotional journey that he invites the whole crowd to join him on.

I'm just very, very glad that Le Gateau Chocolat is still here and lets us into his world, even if only briefly.

And for the record, happy 35th birthday, you beautiful, amazing man!

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