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15 December 2004
Laughter on the menu

Bruce Dessau: Evening Standard

Wilkommen bienvenue, welcome. Following last year's hit run, the Barbican's basement space has been transformed again into a decadent nighterie, courtesy of Duckie's loose collection of performance artistes, hoofers and comedians. Anyone for postmodern lapdancing? It is camp, trashy and wonderful. Weimar Berlin via the Vauxhall Tavern.

This is a totally interactive theatrical experience, from the kind of gushingly perfect waiters who do not exist in reality to the fake Duckie Dollars with which you book your table's acts. The menu's choices range from Golden Throat to Miss Kick Does Seven Cocks, which turned out to be the kind of balloonmodelling children's entertainers never do. It is adult but neither erotic nor pornographic, more playfully suggestive.

The main cast, Ursula Martinez, Christopher Green, Kazuko Hohki and Miss High Leg Kick, all have separate careers in their own right. Green is also stand-up Tina C, while Hohki was a founder of the commitedly quirky Frank Chickens. They certainly graft for their bogus bankrolls here, circling the tables and turning artful tricks in their fleshcoloured body stockings.

But beware. Our party foolishly ordered a platter of sensible titbits and had to force out smiles at Martinez's Wicked Witch of the West delivered in Spanish and a nanosecond-long hoof from the self-styled Miss Kick, while others were enjoying the riotously priapic antics of bequiffed special guest Stu Boogaloo or being serenaded under umbrellas by Hohki.

We looked on enviously at Natcho Snatcho on a nearby table, rather like Woody Allen gloomily eyeing the revellers on the neighbouring train in Stardust Memories. By the time our Office Party request reached us we had glimpsed it so many times the thrill of a singalong and funny hats had faded.

Choose wisely and the evening, co-devised by trailblazing genre-bender Marisa Carnesky, is a unique spectacle, irreverently trampling over disciplines from dance to burlesque.

After winning the moral high ground when Christopher Green writhed for us while reciting excerpts fromJoyce's Ulysses, a cod-sentimental snowballing finale raised smiles all round. C'est Barbican! is a hoot, even better if you leave your inhibitions in the cloakroom.

Duckie's Christopher Green is also stand-up Tina C

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