For those who have not yet made it to the Adelaide Fringe and are still on the hunt for a show that will make a trip to the Garden of Unearthly Delights a worthwhile one, do I have a show recommendation for you!
Blanc de Blanc: ENCORE by Strut and Fret is a champagne-laced variety show unlike anything that you will experience in the cosy and inviting space of the Fortuna Spiegeltent. By bringing the best of Parisian glitz and vintage glamour, the cast of unapologetically extravagant performers wreak havoc in a manner that makes it so attractive and indulging that you won't be able to look away from what vigorously blossoms on stage. Delving into the absolute magic of this particular performance, we are captivated by a show whose beauty resides in the wild debauchery that takes place in every single pocket of the venue. If you think that you're safe because you sat further back in the tent, you will be wonderfully proven wrong.
Hosted by Remi Martin Lenz and Felix Pouliot (Cirque du Soleil alumnus), we are reeled into this whimsical world that unfolds on the eye-popping stage (courtesy Philip Gladwell) that is adorned in multi-coloured circles and can be manipulated for a desirable effect to bring the different acts into kaleidoscopic focus. Charming us with their velvety French accents, the duo delivers their lines with a cheeky twinkle in their eyes and proceeds without any caution whatsoever, as they envelope the audiences into waves of hysterics with their playful segments that can never been unheard or unseen (and this, by no means, is a bad thing)!
Throughout the show, we witness a range of impressive acts, with each one never overstaying their welcome, but instead leaving us on the edge of our seats and yearning for more. Precision and poise are not only essential, but perfectly executed, as the cast of performers come out in a range of costumes (handpicked by James Browne) that leave very little to the imagination and yet, excite us in ways that we didn't think possible. It is no surprise that the performance is titillating and tantalizing by including some of the most beautiful and highly-skilled individuals in the circus, performing arts, and physical theatre scene.
Having watched Remi in L.I.A.R. a couple of weeks back, I saw a repeat segment in Blanc de Blanc: ENCORE and despite having experienced the unusually arousing performance twice now, I found myself cackling with utter happiness and joy much more profoundly this time around, as I yet again witnessed him beatbox to the iconic Non, je ne regrette rien by Edith Piaf with a very unique instrument. It may have also had a lot to do with our placement in the venue, where we had direct access (and view) to said unique instrument that was strategically hidden behind a French flag-coloured piece of cloth.
Staying true to the name of the show, we are also offered educational yet entertaining insights into what is considered one of the most pristine champagnes, where Remi and Felix display a rather joyful display of grapes, which are thrown left, right, and centre. If you are one of the audiences with a glass in your hand, you can also expect to be poured some complimentary wine that literally 'makes the rounds', thanks the beautiful aerialist Caitlin Tomson-Moylan, whilst simultaneously being hypnotized by the cast's polished performance that will leave your jaws dropped and your heart racing for the entirety of the two hour performance (with an interval in between to gather yourself).
It is difficult to pinpoint a particular favourite moment from the show, because, as each segment made their way on stage, it proved to be just as enthralling as the previous act. However, if I absolutely had to mention some highlights, I would say that the chemistry between the duo Tomson-Moylan and Spencer Craig was climactic enough to leave everyone in the audience mesmerized, as they seamlessly caressed each other whilst being mid-air and defied gravity, as they made their way to the venue's high top and then elegantly dropped with inches to spare from the stage. Also worth noting is the mind-bending and spellbinding contortion demonstrated eloquently by Mongolian native and Cirque du Soleil alumnus Uugantuya "Ugi" Otgonbayar, who was able to deliver a special first-class view of her performance to a lucky audience member, who was invited on stage and made to sit on a 'throne' and get a close-up view of her flexibility in a way that would have made you weak in the knees (and everywhere else too). Serenading us through the mischief and antics, we have our very own homegirl Melanie Hawkins alongside Rechelle Mansour with golden vocal cords, who silence the room as they wanders through the crowd and makes their melodious voices flow effortlessly to the music of nostalgic jazz that makes the speakeasy vibe of the venue come alive in its most royal glory. It's so worth mentioning my reclaimed love for aerials on silk by the talented Tuedon Ariri, who was able to turn heads (literally and metaphorically speaking) as she twirled around the room whilst gracefully suspending herself from the high top. Finally, I'm pretty sure I've developed a major girl crush on LA-based burlesque starlet Skylar Benton, whose seductive little number in the second half of the show was accentuated by the red lighting donning the circles on stage and emanated strong Bond girl vibes. Couple that with the Chinese pole that was absolutely owned by Remi and Felix (and also threw the concept of gravity out the window), this show delivered extensively on so many levels.
With a tight and erotically-charged choreography by Kevin Maher that stimulates your senses, just the right amount of dialogue to make the entire audience feel heavily invested and welcomed in the show, and a brilliant lineup of entertainment that will make you appreciate the human body and its capabilities through an entirely new perspective, the cast of Blanc de Blanc: ENCORE deserves to be classed as highly qualified experts in the field of cabaret, circus, and physical theatre. There's no denying that the cast has gone through extensive training to perfect their art and create a visually-striking performance that will leave you in an exhilarating mood and possibly ignite some kinks to excite the inner devilish delight in you. Expect to see a lot of gender-bending, fluidity with sexual identities, tackling topics that were formerly seen as being 'taboo' being celebrated to the absolute max, and costumes that will invoke something exciting and flirtatiously filthy within and make you venture out of your comfort zone.
Blanc de Blanc: ENCORE is a show that encapsulates some of the best guilty pleasures coupled with some seriously gorgeous individuals with talents that have no limits, whilst baring it all (yes, literally all of it!) in a raunchy and rambunctious blend of Vintage French flair, saucy cabaret, tasteful burlesque, unimaginable contortion, risqué comedy, and dazzling acrobatics that will leave you in an electrified, sultry, and naughty mood long after the show is over! Despite not having had the opportunity to experience the original show Blanc de Blanc, which has consistently been one of the top-recommended shows at Adelaide Fringe for several years now, I can safely say that I would die very happy knowing that I was able to go and watch the absolutely stunning and stellar show Blanc de Blanc: ENCORE. It has also completely ruined my expectations for future circus and physical theatre shows, because it's going to be really difficult to find one that can match the caliber and quality of this impressive masterpiece of physical theatre. There is no doubt that only great things await the future of this show and its cast and that it will quickly be cementing itself as a mainstay in the performing arts industry for many, many years to come.
Date attended: 01/03/2020 Overall rating: ★★★★★
Blanc de Blanc ENCORE will be performed at the Garden of Unearthly Delights till March 15, 2020, as part of Adelaide Fringe. Book your tix here.
Put on your finest and/or sexiest attire that screams either French vintage or Gatsby to fit the theme of this incredible show - who knows, you might get pulled onto the stage for a fun pillow fight, a dangerous knife-throwing act, or a contortion act that will leave you blushing for all the right reasons.
Take full advantage of the bar that has been installed towards the back of the venue and who knows, you may have your very own wine pouring service that makes her 'rounds' and offers you complimentary champagne!
Expect to leave the show covered in a mix of confetti, feathers, and lots (and lots) of champagne.