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By Melanie Bainbridge,
Founder and Executive Director,
The Pack Music Cooperative and 21st Century Dingo 

There is a certain artistry in embracing imperfection in the pursuit of uniqueness and frankly, where Fringe festivals are concerned, I think there should be more of it.

In an era where Fringe festival programs are increasingly dominated by bland fast food style tribute acts and derivative comedy and cabaret, it's refreshing to see something that, while by no means perfectly polished, goes above and beyond to make space for experimentation, courage and difference. 

Enter 'Cabaret De La Crooked', a rambunctious melange of eclectic talent and unabashed originality. This isn't your grandma's cabaret (unless she's into that, no judgement here, Gran), it's a smorgasbord of the risque, the raw, and the downright raucous. 

This glorious melting pot of diversity and audacity, served with a side of sex and a sprinkle of unapologetic cheek, took place at the always buzzing Rosemount Hotel, and was brought to life by Ardent Artiste productions. Newly formed in 2022, the company actively champions diversity, welcoming individuals who may feel out of place in more traditional performance settings, and extends a special invitation to people with disabilities, BIPOC, members of the LGBQTIA+ community, and the mature-aged performer.


The crew created a safe and warm environment for like-minded individuals - performers and audience alike. In this way it harks back to the true purpose of cabaret, to open minds and challenge perceptions. The show itself is more than just a performance; it's a manifesto- a call to arms for inclusion and celebration.

First things first, the performers. Ranging from the sultry undulations of twerk and burlesque and sharp lip synching stylings of sassy drag kings, to gut-busting comediennes and soul-stirring musicians, there was talent here to tickle every fancy-and some fantasies you never even knew you had.


There were plenty of highlights on offer. First up, Nia Twerk Noir deserves a special mention for a twerking sequence that was not only eye-wateringly sexy but probably the cause of a sudden increase in pilates memberships. This performance didn't just push the envelope; it twerked the envelope into a whole new dimension. The collective envy and awe of the audience were suitably hooted and hollered, a testament to the power of unabashed self-expression and, let's be honest, some seriously impressive glute control.   

MC Cosmo Enchantee, whose timing is so spot-on, it could give Big Ben a run for its money, brought some eyebrow-raising sass to the stage between acts, ably  supported by  the hilarious Bruce Nukem who gave us a dose of boldly bogan sex appeal that was as confusing as it was comical. 


Bruce also gave us a weird juxtaposition of amazing vocals, set alongside the silliest of enigmatic drag king antics. And let's not forget The Witcher's surprise cameo, blowing some serious sax on their rendition of INXS's 'Never Tear Us Apart', which frankly, was saxier that it had any right to be. 


However, no cabaret is without it 'room for improvement' card. The MCs, as titillating and talented  as they are, need to cut the umbilical cord with their scripts. A little spontaneity, a dash of ad-libbing pizzazz, could have taken their hosting from 'functional' to 'phenomenal'. And a bit more polish during the changeovers wouldn't hurt; as always keeping the magic seamless, keeps the audience enthralled. Yet, these are but minor quibbles in a splendid affair.


Cabaret De La Crooked isn't just a show; it's a vibrant, pulsating embodiment of the essence of Fringe. It's a testament to what can be achieved when we not only accept but celebrate the unique tapestry of humanity. 


So, if you're craving something that breaks the mould, shakes up the status quo, and serves it with a wink and a smile, this is your ticket - this crew will be one to watch into the future I suspect.


Hat's off or should I say, Boas off to Ardent Artiste productions for not just putting on a show, but starting a movement. 


If you're seeking the safe and the santisied, move along. But if you're yearning for a night of unabashed, crooked delight, then step right up. Sometimes, the most beautiful art starts from the most crooked lines.... 


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