Bittersweet: MFF

Bittersweet takes place at the end of an evening, in the bygone era of a dusty nightclub. Four performers and a house band take part in a beautiful burlesque evening, housed in the cavernous Meat Market. This venue acts as both a blessing and a curse for the various and extremely talented performers that take part in this circus burlesque.

The Dice Club is a seedy, sweaty haven for the members of society cut adrift. The MC pulls together the threads of acrobat and dancer Stephen Williams, chanteuse Anna Pocket Rocket and sensationally talented trapeze and hula artist Simone Page Jones into a vague recollection of the final moments of the club before its spectacular demise.

MC Richard Higgins pulls the separate parts of the show together admirably, drawing together the massive talent of the performers within a narrative that is neither too simple nor too overbearing. Sometimes his voice is lost through the single mike in the cavernous space, but he maintains very well.

Simone Page Jones has a substantial voice that is something I have not heard in a long time. Her more subtle pieces worked better than her big tune Send in the Clowns, which although brilliant was still anchored in slightly unsuitable setting. Page Jones, at the end of the night, was singing to herself in the mirror, stationary, a lonely figure. This didn’t translate well to the cavernous space of the Meat Market, losing some intimacy in the translation.

Stephen Williams, a masked and hatted figure for much of the first part of the show was a beauty to watch, with an amazing sense of body control. I often become apprehensive in circus acts, sometimes being unable to handle the physical heights that some performers have. Williams was a confident presence on stage, and his acrobatics were graceful, and, more importantly, part of the narrative that had been created.

Anna Pocket Rocket was a stand out for her versatility and vulnerability as a performer. I have always been struck by the contrast of the hula and trapeze acts. The hula is an intense performance, given to moments of both incredible strength, but also extremely contingent on mess ups being made. This was incorporated into Rocket’s act, as was the grace and flexibility that comes with a trapeze act, the independent body of force that can be used for a performance in the air.

A great an entertaining performance from all parties involved where a more intimate venue would have proven better. I understand the need for vigorous safety measures and as an extension for there to be a lot of room, but the narrative begged for a more closed in space where the audiences were more given to interact with not only the performers, but more importantly with the MC, who has the most important story to tell.


With Richard Higgins (Last Tuesday Society, List Operators), Anna Pocket Rocket (Absinthe, Aviator Club UK), Simone Page-Jones (Svetta Dobranoch, Company of Strangers), and Stephen Williams (Baseline Circus UK).

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