Reflex Theatre, Cabaret Sometimes

Review in Issue 10-2 | Summer 1998

The audience is ushered with drinks into a dimly lit space, thick with cigarette smoke, and shown to tables around a small stage. Cabaret Sometimes, by Sheffield’s Reflex Theatre, begins with the MC making his way up to a solitary microphone and softly welcoming the audience to the show. The act he introduces is a comic magician who barely begins her first trick before being loudly interrupted by a Mancunian heckler. The cabaret gradually disintegrates and the heckler becomes the centre of attention, reliving his own private tragedy from the night Princess Diana died.

The piece is an exploration of personal stories exposed in public and searches for the truth behind the painted grin of the comic. ‘Laughter deadens pain, like paracetamol,’ observes the heckler, as he constantly searches for words to use as weapons.

Liz Tomlin, artistic director and writer, was formerly a member of Forced Entertainment and it’s easy to spot some familiar themes. But Reflex focus on an intensive physical training regime, employing techniques derived from dance and martial arts. Despite this, the physical interaction, which is by far the most interesting aspect of the dialogue between the characters, almost seems like an afterthought, and the text and its delivery often lacks subtlety.

The show is pacey and tightly focused and the performers make full use of the intimacy of the venue. But ultimately I was left with the feeling that I’d seen it all somewhere before.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-2
p. 22