Editors' pick

Cabaret XXX: Love the One You're With

Cabaret
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Editorial Review

A foursome’s raunch and roll
By Peter Marks
Monday, July 16, 2012

Embarking on a Capital Fringe Festival experience in the company of the lusty womenfolk of “Cabaret XXX: Love the One You’re With” is like starting your day with two triple espressos and a rack of racy magazines.

Under the festival’s Baldacchino Gypsy Tent, four singers with big-belt voices and a surfeit of sexual energy -- Karen Lange, Allyson Harkey, Toni Rae Brotons and Christina Frank -- cavort in profane rock land for an hour, performing a set dedicated to the proposition that, well, girls just want to have fun.

The intense pleasure they derive from letting loose on such electrically infused numbers as Devil Doll’s “The Way You Do,” Pat Benatar’s “All Fired Up,” Annie Lennox’s “Dark Road” and the Pierces’ “Patience” is absolutely catching. The more exuberantly they assay the roles of women on the verge, the more delightfully charged becomes the atmosphere in the tent.

The banter and theatrics, overseen by director Brotons, dispense entirely with mere innuendo. The act, courtesy of D.C.’s Pinky Swear Productions, is not for delicate constitutions: This is raunch rock, complete with a rendition of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” accessorized by steamy equipment for the bedroom. The number comes across as a funny riff on libidinous free expression by a contemporary, distaff version of the Village People.

Each of the women -- supported by Robert Wilson on drums, K.P. Wesley on guitar and musical director Felix Pages on keyboard -- has a spotlight moment or two, and although the acoustics in the tent are not finely calibrated (a gentleman across from me had his fingers in his ears for much of the hour), you get a primal kick listening to these singers amplify their urges so joyously.