Bruce J Little performs his teeny little cabaret called Little Poof this week at Beefcakes in Somerset Road and I went to check it out last night.
I’m going to tell you all about the show before I get into the venue, because I don’t want to put you off.
Little Poof is a collection of sketches and songs performed by Bruce with music (and music direction) by Catherine Hopkins. It is a charming, very funny, relaxed, intimate little show.
Bruce is delightful. He has a lovely, pleasing singing voice, and while his song choices are not always my faves, I like what he did with almost all of them. I particularly loved his serious and very moving interpretation of Brenda Fassie’s Weekend Special, and his rendition of Mad World by Tears for Fears. His hilarious opening, I’m Coming Out, as he does between the clothes on the rail, is beyond cute. While reinterpretations of songs to push the gay angle are nothing new, Bruce has a naughty twinkle and a very relaxed style which allows him to pull it off.
His character sketches are equally good. I especially loved Marika (I think that was her name), the fag hag, with the divine pink poncho with attached boobs and pearls. She was so, so funny as she explained Gay 101. I loved coloured Shenaaz, that rhymes with the wine, and I loved black Joburg dancer, ‘jealous down’. His very serious runaway boy worked less well for me, but that’s because I really don’t like people being children on stage.
Little Poof is a cute, accessible, little show, that deserves an audience, because it will be so enjoyed. But, and here it comes, I am going to really struggle to support that venue.
I have never been to Beefcakes before. It’s a pumping pink restaurant upstairs with a spiral staircase taking you into its bowels for the theatre. Not a good sign for me. The second not good sign are the twenty odd silver chairs arranged in two rows of a semi-circle to make audience seats. Sheesh, you’ve gone to the trouble of building the world’s teeniest stage, at least make a plan for an audience! It is absolutely obvious from the moment you enter that the space was not designed for actual life performance that people should actually sit and watch.
Then, there is smoking allowed. How backward, barbaric and outrageous. I had someone smoking behind me, while the show was on. I kid you not. Sorry. Not good.
And then! During the show two totally unforgivable things happened. The first was that the door to the venue was opened so some guy from upstairs could come in and scratch around behind us for five whole minutes before leaving with two six packs of something. The second was a waiter opening the door and crossing the space in between us and the stage, making Bruce (who managed to remain in character and charming throughout) totally lose his place and train of thought. That damn waiter took the same route out of there after fetching something from the bar! In fact, each time the door was opened, the sound of ‘Bitchy Bingo’ from upstairs drowned Bruce out, and for the rest, when the door was closed, it provided a distracting soundtrack.
I am done with venues wanting to do a bit of theatre ‘on the side’ and making it so the performers have to fight a battle with the venue in order to do their show. Shows and performers need to be supported, helped and honoured. I’m done with performers being treated like travelling gypsy scum who will settle for scraps and damn well take what’s dished out to them. I so hope Bruce takes this show to a different venue. I think it would work really well at The Kalk Bay Theatre. I know that he is relying on the pink dollar in Green Point, but I’m sure a venue change at a later stage will give the show the theatrical space it needs. At least there will be some lights to see Bruce and Catherine in.
Nonetheless, Little Poof is still on for this week, until Saturday, and then there is a special charity performance of it on Monday 26, where proceeds will go to an organisation helping lesbians in the township. And it is worth sucking it up and going to see it.