A voluptuous black man in full-body lycra suits, singing opera while sparkling with sequins – okay, I’m sold! However, I was soon surprised to find my all-man boyfriend tearing-up beside me, mouthing the words of a Nick Cave song as a full-bodied baritone resonated off the red velvet roofing. Le Gateau Chocolat rose far beyond expectations, making us whoop with laughter while dancing in a roomful of grooving strangers, captured by a voice and a presence which left his audience lambs to his command.
Le Gateau Chocolat, a Nigerian born British Lawyer who succumbed to the urge to perform, is so much more than meets the eye, and that’s saying something. If you can wrench your gaze from his mesmerizingly red-sparkled lips, he will move you with a heart of insurmountable strength – a heart full of love and hope for the people around him and of stories told through his beautiful baritone voice. He shares his joy as he prances through the audience giving hugs, and being momentarily obsessed with someone’s very muss-able, pat-able hair, then tutoring a 20-something bloke in how to move those hips!
This monarch of chocolate carries us from Streisand to Radiohead, from Old Man River to operatic delights, infusing the songs’ stories with his own understandings, insecurities and trials. As he stands amidst his adoring audience, he sings of that love he once found as a boy of 14, the love that leaves you speechless and blubbering when it walks into the room, and calls “Come sail your ships around me, And burn your bridges down, We make a little history, baby, Every time you come around”, as his audience sways and wipes their eyes.
Nothing is as you expect, walking into the gorgeous Deluxe tent in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, a perfect location for Le Gateau. Initially, we are entertained by his voice, anecdotes, and heart-warming cheekiness, but as the show progress he draws us further and further in, and at his command the whole audience stands to dance, while the only hesitating member is bombarded with hugs by the man in the zebra suit. He finds many other fun and surprising ways to make his audience a part of his show – but I won’t be giving these away, you’ll have to find out for yourself.
Testament again to his truth that “The drag – the wigs, the lycra – they’re just a façade”, he layers his show with philosophies about life, weaving them through to reveal the depth behind his performance, refusing to let the glitter and sequins fool us. The aptness of his name appears through the strata of his performance – one very big heart, enclosed in a fuller-figured chocolate coating and a voice of amazing beauty and versatility, sprinkled with sequins, curly wigs, fabulous make-up, then zipped-up in lycra. No performance could ask for more. If you miss Le Gateau Chocolat, you miss the very best of cabaret and solo-performance, and you miss the opportunity to scream in delight and be moved by his passion, dancing at the fingertips of your host, the master of all he surveys.
2011 Adelaide Fringe Festival
Le Gateau Chocolat
Venue: The Deluxe | The Garden Of Unearthly Delights Adelaide
Dates: 15 Feb - 13 Mar (excl. 18 & 28 Feb) at 8.15pm
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: $32 (Conc & Tue $26 / Group $30 / Preview 15 - 17 Feb $25)
Bookings: FringeTix - 1300 FRINGE (1300 374 643) | www.adelaidefringe.com.au