September 06, 2011
The imagery of the theatre and the stage is often used to discuss the public and the private, personal and social, front-stage, back stage etc etc etc. Even so, the interplay between public and private personas isn't normally the focus of a cabaret show; it certainly wasn't when we went to see Le Gateau Chocolat for the first time at La Soiree. But when given the opportunity to fill out an hour long Edinburgh show, Gateau uses the stage to fully explore 'Gateau' the lycra wearing, glitter-lipped cabaret singer and Gateau the 29 year old, British-born Nigerian Law Student whose mother doesn't know he's a.) Gay and b.) not exactly a lawyer yet.
Splitting the stage into two allows Gateau to switch from public to private in a pleasingly literal way; one side being 'the stage' - where he performs his spellbinding mix of high energy pop covers, show tunes and opera (some of which may be familiar from appearances in La Clique or La Soiree) and the other the 'backstage' where wigs are whipped off costumes changed and the audience gets a candid glimpse into Le Gateau Chocolat, the person. If this is all starting to sound a little heavy-going, rest assured that Gateau is as funny, racy and near the knuckle as his eye catching performances in the aforementioned cabaret showcases. But what really sets his show apart is the expertly judged gear-switches between raw, deeply personal revelations and light-hearted, joyful song and dance numbers.
With operatic renditions of everything from Streisand to Radiohead, heart-warming anecdotes, dashes of personal philosophy and emotional revelations, it can make for an exhausting emotional experience but more importantly a cathartic and hugely rewarding one.
Gateau shows the same wit and charm when exploring issues of identity and gender as he does when finding out which audience members would look best in body-hugging leotards. (It was Jane!) And it was these unexpected juxtapositions that gave the show its one-of-a-kind tone. One minute, Gateau's soulful rendition of Nick Cave’s 'The Ship Song' is causing floods of tears from even the most stoic of audience members, the next, those same weepers are up on stage, deliriously dancing to Madonna's 'Holiday' without time to wipe the tears from their beaming faces.
To criticise Gateau's show for inconsistent tone would be to miss the point entirely, the melodramatic flip flopping is quite unlike any cabaret show on the circuit. But more interestingly; with his Edinburgh run Gateau shows how he can take what might at first seem like a one-note novelty act and stretch it to its limit - like a morph suit across the barrel chest of an operatic baritone, leading the audience on an emotional ride that swerves into places they'd never expect from a typical drag act.
But Le Gateau Chocolat is no typical drag act, and the standing ovation he received following his final performance of Nessun Dorma showed that Edinburgh agrees.
Read more Glowing Praise for Gateau by following the links below
Edinburgh Spotlight Preview
Edinburgh Festival List
The Public Reviews - Interview
The Stage Review
The New Current Review
Gaily Mail Interview
For more info on Gateau or any of the other acts we've featured in our Edinburgh Reviews, get in touch via the contact page.