Dusty Limits

Cabaret XXL

Birmingham Rep Door


IT WAS a case of leaving your Christmas cheer at the door when Dusty Limits took to the stage on the first leg of a trio of pre Christmas Cabaret XXL nights.

Dusty also known in other circles as Dorian Black, delivered a stiff upper lip set of songs with his dark themes ranging from mortality to drug and sex addiction saying from the outset it was not going to be a Christmas show.

His performances are celebrated on the international cabaret scene, and his work is co written and accompanied on the piano by Michael Roulston. 

Whilst the dynamic duo are also known for their interpretations of well know artists such as David Bowie, here they chose original material from several of their previous shows including those from the appearances at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The pairing create a very sophisticated atmosphere and both musically and lyrically present an accomplished, if at times, bleak view of the world.

In stark contrast to their show was a short introduction from Barbara Nice the creation of Birmingham based actress Janice Connolly.

Although she has appeared on a variety of comedy shows with Peter Kay she barely had time to make any real impression as the ice breaking warm up Barbara Nicefor the night. Heading straight for an audience participation piece with a `chosen at random ‘audience member was not exactly a comfortable opening and whilst the audience did their best to participate, it all felt flat and awkward.

What was more odd was the sheer contrast of her presence to the headline act. Dusty and Michael are more akin in style to a modern day Flanders and Swann who were a popular piano duo of the nineteen fifties and sixties and if any kind of compere was needed it would have been better to add someone who may have built on their stylish performance.

Janice Connolly as Barbara Nice

It seemed that the duo did not quite know what to make of the audience and so they started rather nervously but after a few songs they seemed to relax. Dusty was once the Director of the Black Cat Cabaret at the Cafe de Paris, and with residencies at the Café de Paris, Savoy Hotel and Café Royal seemed a little unsure in this theatre setting of where to pitch the show.

The opening songs were introspective and felt rather safe. However towards the end of the set they began to unleash some of their more controversial material and whilst Dusty pre warned that someone might walk out or be offended it was more fitting for the risqué setting that Cabaret XXL has come to represent. He need not of have been worried.

What was good to see was a more produced set for the night with some well produced lighting that aided the mood of Dusty’s voice and the character of every song. All in all an entertaining if not sombre evening leaving you with thoughts rather than laughter.

The Cabaret XXL nights continue with a range of other acts on the 16th and 17th December so check The Rep website HERE for more details.

Jeff Grant



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