Photographer Chris Blakeley reviews The Castaways in “K.O.” and “Glitterati”.
– Written and photographed by Chris Blakeley, Contributing Writer/Photog (Seattle)
Sometimes I just need a break from the burlesque scene. It’s a question of balance, of timing and sometimes of exhaustion. Now some people would use this as an opportunity to put the camera down or maybe move on to another project, which I gladly do when I need that break. But sometimes I just find it so much more satisfying to shoot a different kind of show. That’s when I grab my gear and head down to the Can Can to be blown away like the old Memorex ad, taking pictures like a fiend.
Refreshing is an understatement.
I love the Castaways. Underline that, bold it, italicize it and put that in 144 point font and you’ll come close to my feelings for them. No matter what, I feel like I go into full on fanboy mode whenever I talk to them, all stuttering and awkward “where do I look now?” moments.
The Castaways (Benihana, Easy-E, Fiona Minx, Jonny Boy, Rainbow Fletcher) are a little bit burlesque, a bit more cabaret, a lot of acrobatics and a whole heaping helping of modern dance, pulled together by Rainbow Fletcher’s ever changing and amazingly inventive choreography. It’s almost impossible to describe their acts because for every one that has a clear through-line (a gladiator pursues a unicorn, a duet to a mournful ballad by The Bad Things) there are three or four that defy description except possibly as the set up to a joke (“A badger, a spaceman and a karate fighter walk into a bar…”). It is dance for the sake of dance with the occasional pastie. It is performance with a casual indifference to that whole “fourth wall” thing.
It’s wonderful. It’s mesmerizing. It’s also bloody hard to explain the shows when you’re dealing with their kind of strange reality. Group acts that defy explanation as well as gravity: masked sumo with fans, big band covers of Britney Spears, Benihana bouncing around the stage like a demented puppet, Fiona Minx being chastised by Jonny Boy in bad drag for her sexy clothes. They are conceptual, they are dynamic and they are nothing at all like each other except that they hold the audience’s attention from high speed antics to gentle aerial duets and back. And then there’s Vladi, who I leave to the audience to discover for themselves.
I can’t recommend these shows enough, whether it’s one of the “greatest hits” shows on Friday nights, their spectacles on Saturdays or even one of their forays into the Triple Door and beyond. If you’re looking for something truly unique, you can’t go wrong with anything the Castaways bring to the stage.
***Visit Chris Blakeley’s Can Can collection on Flickr by clicking HERE; and check the sidebar links at right for more on Can Can’s showtimes and tickets.***