London theatre news: Thursday 5 May 2016

Festivals - London West End

London Wonderground opens today at the Southbank Centre and continues right through the summer until 25 September ...

London Wonderground at Southbank Centre

Image: London Wonderground

London Wonderground is back with a bang at London's Southbank Centre.

Launched in 2012, it's now in its fifth year and features a packed programme of circus, cabaret and family entertainment, all taking place in the 1920s Paradiso Spiegeltent.

Headlining the Spiegeltent this year is the world premiere of the Wild West circus-cabaret The Raunch - the brainchild of cabaret legend Empress Stah, featuring a raucous range of circus skills, captivating music (including an original song by Peaches) and filthy humour from a motley crew of cowboys, braves and blaggards.

Joining them is magnificently bearded, prodigiously talented and insanely cool Canadian troupe Cirque Alfonse with the London premiere of their electro-trad circus-cabaret epic Barbu - one of the breakout hits of the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The programme also features a final cameo from cult boylesque variety party Briefs, burlesque superstar Miss Polly Rae in sensual cabaret spectacular Between The Sheets, the surreal and hilarious East End Cabaret with Club Perverts, the haunting and beautiful Black Cat Cabaret, interactive anarchy in Miss Behave’s Game Show and a twisted tribute to Edith Piaf from the Tiger Lillies.

They are joined by chanteuse Ali McGregor, the spectacularly camp Alternative Eurovision, Double R Club star Benjamin Louche, queer-cabaret supergroup Bourgeois & Maurice and David Hoyle, astonishing vocals and character comedy from Cabaret Whore, Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School which has the audience drawing alt-cabaret stars as they perform, Dusty Limits’ anti-comic cabaret Black Dogs of Death, Finger In The Pie’s anarchic cabaret  variety Wünderfinger, House of Burlesque, Joe Stillgoe’s Songs on Film, Lili La Scala, Marcel Lucont’s Cabaret Fantastique, magical chaos from Peter & Bambi, Scottee and Stars & Strippers.

Wonderground also provides a platform for some of the finest comedy in the land including live performances from television stars Debra Stephenson and Jess Robinson, theatrical comedy spectaculars in Sh*t-Faced Showtime (Pirates of Penzance from those Shakespeare drunkards) and Twelfth Night With Comedians, and some of the most dazzling drag and character comedy in the world, including c*untry singing sensation Tina C, bad granny Ida Barr, the queen of Ireland Panti Bliss, Rotherham’s least-celebrated daughter Myra Dubois, and one of the original cast of Pruscilla Queen of the Desert, Trevor Ashley as Liza.

Treats for the whole family include one of the star attractions of the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe, DIY circus from Trash Test Dummies, Metta Theatre’s ebullient mixture of dance, puppetry and spoken word, which combine to create a brand new adaptation of Kipling’s Jungle Book, time-travelling magic from Morgan and West, lessons in rock’n’roll from the award-winning Tess Waters in How To Be A Rockstar, installation storytelling from Bedtime Stories, beatboxing adventures with Shlomo and a dance party for the whole family in Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dancehall.

But you don't need to buy tickets for the shows to enter the festival site, so you can always just enjoy a tipple in the sunshine.

Situated next to Jubilee gardens there are indoor and outdoor bars, bites to eat, bandstand, oddities, curiosities and eccentricities, fairground rides - including the 60-metre high Star Flyer which gives you an unrivalled view over London's rooftops - maze and sideshows.

Check out the schedule for full programme details.

London Wonderground

Image: London Wonderground


Southbank Centre

Belvedere Road Coach Park

London SE1 8XX


5 May to 25 september 2016


Prices vary by show - check schedule for details.


Southbank Centre

London Wonderground

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