Amongst all the dispute about whether or not new venues should be opening, Lost Rivers Brewery, known for their Bermondsey Yard Cafe and other pop-up venues, have quietly expanded from beer into performance in their brand new temporary venue. Made out of shipping containers and a stretch tent on a pre-regeneration patch of land in the Elephant & Castle, Lost Rivers Elephant is unassumingly tucked behind the shopping centre and train station. It’s no mirrored spiegeltent or purple cow, but its rough-and-ready simplicity and grit approaches the edge of minimalist cool. Their debut show, the circus/cabaret Santa’s Stocking by Zero Central (creators of The Raunch), is a hit-and-miss collection of acts with a decidedly stronger second half. The show and venue are still very much finding their feet, but there is evident promise within some powerful moments (and excellent pints).
Hosted by X-Factor contestant Seann Miley Moore and Gingzilla, the two form a fabulously queer, gender binary-defying duo exuding pride and sex appeal. Their cheesy, punny banter wears on entirely too long but redeem themselves somewhat with well-sung Christmas and pop songs.
Of the Act I performers, Candy Cane Girl (Teresa Callan) is a smily, bendy hula hooper with moves that gradually increase in skill and complexity. She is accompanied by animated kaleidoscopic projections that add more adult flavour. She is the strongest in the first half, narrowly outdoing a Cyr wheel elf who tries and fails to flirt with the audience.
The second half mercifully has less of the hosts’ banal chat, more impressive circus and bolder sex. Hand balancer Michael Standon has an unusually impressive fluidity, Gingzilla’s Santa strip tease is akin to a opening a wonderfully unexpected gift on Christmas morning and Moore’s rendition of Hallelujah accompanied by ariel hoop artist Jo Foley is an exquisite finale in this intimate cabaret venue.
Zero Central does well considering the space limitations in Lost Rivers Elephant, though cutting down the introduction, adding more punchy acts to the first half and taking out the interval would certainly improve the show. Shared lighting encourages guests to move around as needed, with food and drink easily accessible. With a bit of jazzing up, this intimate new venue could certainly become quite an exciting offer with a specialisation in small-scale circus and cabaret.
Santa’s Stocking runs through 22 December.
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