Archive for September, 2018

Preview – How I Became a Dominatrix Using Damned Lies and Statistics – Vulcanello Productions at the King’s Head Theatre

September 5, 2018

Smash hit and Evening Standard “Pick of the Camden Fringe” How I Became a Dominatrix Using Damned Lies and Statistics is returning to the London stage after a sold out run at the EtCetera Theatre. The original cast is back for a limited engagement – five nights only – at the King’s Head Theatre in mid-October, playing as a part of the late night programme after performances of La Traviata.

How I Became a Dominatrix Using Damned Lies and Statistics

Counter culture housewife Christy (Fleur de Wit) thinks she’s lost all interest in sex, until she discovers the internet. Suddenly she’s found the cure for sexual blahs: she is going to become a dominatrix!

From bondage workshops to sex clubs, Christy takes herself, her husband Scott (Anthony Rhodes) and the audience on a journey of discovery, with instruction (and ridiculous jokes) courtesy of Coral Tarran (Mistress Sunshine, Violet) and newcomer Kyran Peet (Russell, Eric). Don’t tie yourself in knots – get someone else to!

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT: HIBDUDLS is the sixth play by T. L. Wiswell, the author of gender switched London Lovecraft Festival sell-outs “Mountains of Madness” and “The Thing on the Doorstep.” With this show, she turns from camp horror to anti-romcom, “Noel Coward meets Fifty Shades of Grey.”

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: Micha Mirto is a theatre director with a particular interest in new writing and projects championing diversity. Her debut piece ‘A Flat Full of Chandeliers’ enjoyed a three week residency at the Hen and Chickens theatre and she’s since directed three summer tours with DOT Productions; ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ (2016) ‘Emma’ (2017) and ‘A Woman of No Importance’ (2018). Other projects include ‘I,Dido’ (April 2018, St George’s Bloomsbury) and site specific ‘Gruesome Tales of the dark dark Woods’ (2014, Epping Forest).



HIBDUDLS runs October 15-October 20, 2018 at the King’s Head Theatre and runs at 9:30 nightly for five performances (excluding Thursday). Run time is slightly less than an hour. There are adult topics but no nudity. Not suitable for under 16s. Tickets available on the King’s Head website; updates available via Facebook and Twitter; contact information below.

Twitter: @how2domme

Do you worry that people will try to do this at home? “I sure hope so!” says author TL Wiswell. “This play is supposed to be fun and people should come out feeing cheerful and enthusiastic and empowered. Embrace the power of, ‘Yes please!’ I mean, we give out how-to pamphlets at the show, SOMEBODY should try it out and see if it works. ”
Isn’t it a little too sexy for the London stage? (The play includes a caning workshop and a stylized party set at a sex club.) “Too sexy for Facebook, yes. They’ve consistently banned our ads even when we use vanilla art. We are not providing an adult service! But a lot of people find this whole world very intimidating,” adds Wiswell. “This play provides a road map to navigating the lifestyle and making it approachable. Ultimately, you take home what you bring, and if that’s curiosity, you may discover you’re now willing to push yourself just that little bit more. Dominants and dominatrixes like making jokes and being silly just like everyone else does, it’s just that when they do DIY at home it may be for much more dodgy reasons than you’d expect.”

Why is the title of the play so long? “HIBDUDLS was originally written as a play exploring how long term couples struggle to be honest about their desires – thus the ‘Damned Lies and Statistics,’ because often in a relationship the endless lies you tell to smooth things over become so natural that you forget what it is you actually want. I mostly just call it Dominatrix these days unless I’m talking to my family about the play and then it’s ‘Damned Lies and Statistics,’ the original title – which comes from the old quote about how there are three kinds of lies.”

So how is this a comedy, then? “I wanted to discuss this serious problem in a way that was engaging and positive. That’s how I came up with the dominatrix angle,” she continues. “A lot of people try to pep up their sex lives with the old ‘silk scarves and fuzzy handcuffs’ SM after many years, or decide to ‘open up their relationship’ by going polyamorous. I decided to have the couple of my play go to BDSM workshops together, and then invite the audience to come along. That way they’re learning as the characters learn, but the audience will figure out much sooner that Scott and Christie are approaching this in very different ways. My hope is the audience will see the ‘lies that bind’ fairly quickly. I love unreliable narrators, and both Scott and Christie have no idea what they are getting into in terms of their relationship. They both need to learn how to be honest really quickly.”

What were your inspirations for this show? “Changing your life is really difficult, and many works of art see making a change as too, too hard – impossible, in fact. This inability drives a lot of very melancholy works – “Three Sisters,” “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock,” it’s a long list. I found these inspiring, but they inspired me to flip this narrative, to tell a story where a woman is determined to change and to explore some parts of herself she’s filed away in cold storage and not to just do what she’s ‘supposed’ to do. My closest inspiration otherwise was the book ‘Our Tragic Universe’ by Scarlett Thomas – about someone learning to make a life for themselves – and ‘The Prudes’ by Anthony Neilson, which didn’t inspire me so much as convince me I was on the right track with directly addressing the audience and talking frankly about sex.”

It seems like this play could go quite dark, but the audiences were really laughing at the Et Cetera. Why is that? “Well, I worked to make it positive and upbeat. Neither of the lead characters are perfect and the people they meet run the gamut from predato¬¬ry to genuinely kind and supportive. ‘Dominatrix’ was written with research in both the polyamorous and BDSM community and is fairly true to life – but funnier. There’s a million reasons to be depressed today. I want people to come see my play and walk out feeling sparkly and excited about the future. Hopefully I’ve hit the right balance – and hopefully this will be a good show for neophytes and people who’ve been ‘on the scene’ forever. That’s what I’m aiming for, anyway.”

For additional information on TL Wiswell, see:


Review – Black Cat Cabaret: Bohemia – Underbelly Festival

September 3, 2018

It’s rare that I get to review a show I was interested in see, but this was my great luck – to be invited to opening night of the Black Cat Cabaret’s new show, Bohemia. I’d been alerted to their upcoming run at the Underbelly Festival by a friend who pointed it out as the kind of louche night out I enjoy; and, boy, of the various circus cum cabaret evenings I’ve seen over the last several years at this venue, Bohemia absolutely takes the cake as the best combination of movement, music, and sheer pizazz since I saw the puppy play segment of Briefs back in 2014. Black Cat is running the tightest, freshest presentation of circus based performance right now, the ultimate flowering of the hot bed of burlesque/drag/queerness/physical performance that IS London right now, and only this particular sexually charged petri dish could have produced it. Let me describe for those who might be of a more suspicious nature.

The evening opened with our fabulous, sexalicious compere, Frisky giving us a narrated tour of the life of bohemians throughout the ages, hitting Montmartre, of course, but also the sixties and even Manchester of the eighties. This provided an excuse to sing “Don’t You Want Somebody to Love, ” and … well, do you remember hearing how Grace Slick’s voice was ruined early in her career and you never got those candy-sweet tones you heard on vinyl? WELL I HEARD THAT SONG SPUN LIKE SWEET FLUFFY FLOSS and it rocked out.

The performers were a mixed bag of artists – an easy to love hoop dancer, a muscular man who did aerial silks, a fire breather who looked like the daughter of Ming the Merciless (Hayley Harvey-Gomez), and an alcoholic (supposedly) trapeze-type artist (Katharine Arnold) whose antics overhead as Frisky ordered her (in song), “Entertain us! Here we are now, entertain us!” in gorgeously redux Nirvana style …

literally brought me to tears. Early in the evening, the gorgeous Leon Fagbemi, the second featured act, came on stage doing a flip in the air and, you see, missed his landing. His feet were underneath him but I could see he’d landed wrong, and apparently he really hurt himself, although he kept his face completely straight as he walked off into the darkness …

leaving the rest of the cast to figure out how do we get this back together. And they carried on, like the professionals we were, and we did that thing we do, like hungry audiences, not caring very much but wanting to be entertained. And they literally gave us everything, and watching “Danger K” spinning around in the air above me, I thought, they really are in a different world; they give us their bodies and we give them just a tiny big of money and then suddenly we decide we’re not there for them anymore. Our beautiful, talented, wonderful London artists’ community, we just really don’t love them like we ought to, and there I was, sitting in the audience after this had happened, and Frisky was telling all of us that every one of them knows we only love them for four minutes and then we move on. And it was unbearably beautiful and sad and I got teary.

But hey. I hadn’t had enough sleep. That was it.

The overall quality of the performances was technically very high, with inventive executions (and clever narration) that I felt moved the entire show a notch above the usual burlesque performance or even modern circus. But you know what clinched it? Frisky’s voice. My God. One whole star just for the pleasure of hearing her sing, and the incredibly appropriate and thoughtful music she chose. Which would mean I give this show five stars, if I gave stars, with I don’t. But you know what I did do? I went back and reserved a table for two weeks later, because YES I liked that much and YES Leon I want to see you perform (and be well!) and YES YES YES there is nothing sexier than a giant YES PLEASE for Black Cat: Bohemia. See you in two Fridays.

(This review is for the opening night performance that took place Thursday, August 30th, 2018. It continues through September 30th.)