Review By Lisa Lanzi
Cab Suave: film noir cabaret feels with all the vintage aesthetics minus the genre’s usual misogyny and set within a circus/cabaret framework. Presented by Sparkle Society, the production premiered at Midsumma Festival in February 2022 then toured to Adelaide for Fringe that same year (winning a Pick of the Fringe Award), and is now back for another season.
The company was founded in 2019 both as a performance collective plus booking agency for circus artists. Latonya Wigginton and Abby Kelso, performers and long-time friends aim to focus on transparency when dealing with artists (big tick there!) as well as providing representation for queer artists.
While Cab Suave is not quite as polished as some of the more generously funded circus-based shows doing the rounds of festivals, the entire cast emanate joy, focus, and talent, the excitement building throughout as more of their skills are revealed. They are a cohesive group on stage and individually boast a multitude of abilities and talents and I predict they will all be entertaining audiences for a long time. The premise is not utterly original but definitely fun and beautifully executed: a ‘token’ male private investigator at the beck and call of his vengeful, “wealthy, well-endowed client” is infiltrating a seedy, sultry, suspect club peopled by some less than savoury, gloriously sinful types who just might corrupt us all.
Portraying detective Dick Johnson (yes, there are a few sexual inferences), Jack Wilde is definitely suave, a great mover with stage presence with an excellent speaking voice to deliver the narrative; he also contributes juggling and balance to the set. Winter Cyan is Ember, a fire twirling acrobat, multi-instrumentalist, sound engineer and composer, and responsible for the show’s sound score, playing a mean bass at one point. Latonya Wigginton, co-founder and a graduate of both the Beijing International Arts School and The National Institute of Circus Arts, Melbourne. She is a performer with spell and in possession of an array of impressive circus talents as she channels Mal, the club owner with attitude. Abby Kelso, also a co-founder of Sparkle Society, is Baby who excels at aerial silks and many other circus talents. Kelso is simply a captivating performer who totally connects with her audience through a beaming smile that lights up her eyes. As Trance, Laney Mejias contributes haunting vocals and loads of charisma.
She is also adept at juggling, clowning, and acrobatics though it is her voice that stars. The singer soars between husky alto, cabaret sass and Broadway belt and adds another superb layer to this production.
It was both thrilling and a little daunting at times to be so close to the action within the intimate confines of Gluttony’s Ukiyo setting and I hope this company gets to expand into more ritzy venues in time. They are a gutsy, capable ensemble of performers and excellent entertainers and there is no doubt that Cab Suave will always please an audience.