Funny and witty, the musical comedy The Cabinet of Madame Fanny Du Thé presents us with the story of fantastic adventures of a daring and curious girl Fanny, whose wild leaps of fantasy would make even the best script-writers and novelists jealous.
“Open the door of the cabinet, show us all what’s inside”, Madame Fanny encourages members of the audience. Each object is a clue for the cast to get ready and tell us one of eccentric Fanny’s stories. We see her imprisoned by pirates and assisting at a brain transplant, invited to Marie Antoinette’s party and meeting a man turned into a monkey by a witch. Each little act transports us into a new place from Spain and France to medieval Germany, and Eastern Europe. Music, names of the characters, and accents of the actors give you some clue into where we have ended up this time.
The whole show comprises a series of short sketches: sometimes kind and funny, sometimes gross and dark, and sometimes political and topical. The more you see, the less you question the sketchy singing, exaggerated acting and strange costumes (everyone on the stage wears dresses, as Fanny explains in the beginning – they are my servants so they wear whatever I want).
It is a cabaret-like comedy show, however, behind this parade of jokes and songs, there is a bigger idea. The goal of the show is to encourage your imagination and motivate you to follow your dreams, no matter how wild and impossible they seem to be. Fanny manages to travel across times and spaces in her adventurous dreams, but her ship is about to sink. It does not mean, however, that your dreams cannot turn true in real life.
Such an inspirational message makes the serious ending of the show less depressing. We see Fanny not as another naive dreamer but as a female version of Baron Munchausen, whose soul demanded adventures, and was not ready to accept the boredom of ordinary life.
The acting was decent and the fact that Kate Stokes (Fanny) and Tom Manson (one of the servants) are not solely performers but also writers of the show makes the whole performance feel more like an intimate and personal story, shared with the closest of friends.
The actors from Riddlestick Theatre know how to create a warm setting in the auditorium and break the ice with their audience, turning tired adults on Tuesday night back into curious children, always ready for another unbelievable story.
The Cabinet of Madame Fanny Du Thé runs in Pleasance Theatre in London until March 23rd, the dates of further UK tour of the show can be found on Riddlestick Theatre’s website.