Review: Jojo Bellini – Agents Provocateurs

Underperformed rather than undercover in funny but shaky spy themed cabaret

cabaret review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 14 Aug 2018
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Jojo Bellini

There are some bad-ass female spies whose stories are yet to be told. Whether they should be told through a cat hand puppet that's wearing a swastika armband, and singing '80s hits, is a question for historians more qualified than I.

Quaffing quite possibly the largest martini Edinburgh will see until Dita von Teese returns to bathe in one, Jojo Bellini is a natural and extremely personable raconteur. She’s also done her research, offering a potted history of women who have spied and frequently died for their countries, from 18th Century trans swordswoman Chevalier d'Éon to WW2 Nazi-basher Nancy Wake.

Bellini boasts a serious pair of pipes but they’re not up to the challenge of the bigger ballads. She’s also hampered by an uncomfortable microphone that picks up every breath and repeatedly gets bashed during the choreography. Her re-written lyrics, while delivered with exemplary comic timing, can feel she’s making light of these women’s bravery. Are we really going to parody Virginia Hall’s wooden leg by waving one around to 'Footloose'? This was a woman who was referred to by the Gestapo as "the most dangerous of all Allied spies”, for Christ’s sake. There is no denying Bellini has true affection and reverence of the literal femmes fatales who came before her, but this show largely does them and our star’s cabaret talents a disservice.