Camden Fringe review: John Callaghan’s Cabaret Electro

John Callaghan, creator and performer of Cabaret Electro, must be of similar vintage to me (90s University students), and his show appealed because it promised music and silliness.

Walking back to the tube with a smile on my face I was struck once more by the strength of material staged at fringe festivals – in this case Camden, alrhough Callaghan originally invited me to review at Brighton in May.

The Cabaret Electro is a collection of songs enhanced by programmed tracks, clever videos, and outlandish costumes. There’s a hint of comedy absurdist giants influencing proceedings (Goons, Python, Bonzos) as well as the genres of slapstick and eccentric dancing, with a spoonful of Devo.

How do you classify, let alone review a show like this? Inflatable suits, graphic equaliser lights, puppets, technical flubs and wizardry, and serious topics cloaked in daftness (love, anxiety, body positivity, self-worth) all have their place.

Callaghan is a likeable and talented performer, a whizz on synth and electronic tricks who started young and continued on his own unique path. He might don a box on his head, become his own disco, or indulge in a spot of breakdancing.

There’s even a brief interlude of ghost hunting in the Museum of Comedy at large – which holds enough memorabilia for real spirits to congregate – which ends in a spooky twist.

Although your ears may ring a bit once the hour is up, the sound balance is fine, the videos stand up on their own as works of comedic art, and there’s an inspired use of the limited space.

I wasn’t familiar with Callaghan until this year and when we chatted briefly post-show he asked what I had expected.

Well. What I got, I guess. A good time at a show given by an entertainer who is disarmingly good and definitely worth a trip out of your comfort zone.

For brightening my evening, and being as silly as silly can be while making me head home humming songs and thinking about how we roll as humans, as they said on the old Juke Bix Jury, “O’il give it foive”.

Strange, silly, sincere and sensational, Cabaret Electro has finished its Camden Fringe run, but for more on John Callaghan you can visit his website, headlined ‘both king and fool of the Eccentronica Microscene”.

I couldn’t have put it better.


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