Zeus on the Loose (Fire Nightclub, Vauxhall)

Zeus on the Loose (FIRE Nightclub, Vauxhall, until October 19th)

⭐⭐⭐⭐

It’s wild, wanton, shameless, erotic, outrageous, raunchy and steamy – and you’ll be hard pressed not to enjoy every minute of it.

Mythical figures take to the stage of the Fire nightclub in Vauxhall for a thoroughly entertaining cabaret musical theatre show Zeus on the Loose featuring fine talent and a terrific mix of songs, circus, burlesque and good dirty fun.

This is the first time a live theatre performance has been staged at the venue and it’s a promising start as the space lends itself easily to the playfully profligate goings-on inspired by ancient Greek myths and legends.

It’s all completely bonkers, of course (at one point “the cousin of Zeus” – Isis – is introduced seemingly just for the purposes of a routine set to Walk Like an Egyptian) and while it might not be the most polished show you’ll ever see there is a palpable sense of a team working together to make it all succeed and loving every second of what they’re doing.

The Pandora’s Door show was created and directed by Emma Rollason and it genuinely feels like a true labour of love and passion. It proved a hit at the Cockpit last year and it’s even been performed in a church, but FIRE provides a fitting venue for the naughty but nice depravity.

The plot concerns two daughters of a lascivious Zeus (a hunky Michael Afemare), who Hades is trying to capture for hellish purposes, and his jealous wife Hera (seasoned cabaret performer and co-creator Penni Tovey, who gets to belt out a brassy I Am What I Am amid all the scheming as she tries to avoid being sent to the underworld herself).

Our host Apollo (glittery GAYDIO presenter Dean MCCullough, who warms up the audience with some teasing interaction) warns that the show plays fast and loose with the stories but the unfolding narrative is really just there as an excuse for the extravagant entertainment.

Classical ballet, sexy dances (seductive stuff well choreographed by Allie Ho Chee and Phyl Cashman, who also appears – his highlight is an erotic routine on Mount Olympus which sizzingly satisfies both Zeus and Hera and the audience), a heartstopping contortion from Shannen Jones as Artemis which sees her firing a bow and arrow using her feet, breathtaking aerial acrobatics courtesy of Suzie Smith and some awesome hoop work by Fern Hopkins combine in this bold and brash gaiety.

Beefy dancer Sean O’Flanagan is a sure-fire hit, receiving delighted whoops as Jason in the mortals vs gods sequence. Unsurprisingly he is a hot favourite in photos with the cast in the bar afterwards, where there’s a chance to mingle with the performers, drool and admire some of the outfits too.

The devilishly divatastic drag queen and legendary Vicky Vox shines as Hades, injecting exactly the right amount of over the top and outrageous humour and vocals – who knew hell was such a bitch! Unsurprisingly Vox is the icing on the cake in this dissolute cabaret confection and is such a consummate professional could probably be given greater licence to ad lib and make things even more risqué.

There are one or two technical issues that can be ironed out as the run continues while the venue settles into its new venture but as a whole the show has an infectious positive vibe that leaves the audience smiling.

This is a small company reaching for the heights and deserves plenty of support and encouragement. Once audiences get the measure of this show (which could easily be more cheeky) it is the sort of thing that might garner a cult status.

In any event this outing at Fire is a bold statement of intent with the energy and professionalism boding very well for future productions.

David Guest

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