Mulan Rouge has taken up residence at London’s The Vaults – the tunnels under Waterloo Station – for the next few months. It is a very loud entertainment complete with a four-course dinner.
For the meal, which is provided as a banquet by Flavourology, the audience is seated very close together on narrow wooden benches on either side of tables which run the length of one of the larger vaults. There are four courses: an appetiser and starter, followed by a truly delicious chicken dish with fresh vegetables and later by a gorgeous dessert. The chefs involved must be congratulated on providing such good food in such difficult conditions, all quickly and efficiently served and cleared away with no fuss by an army of very helpful, friendly waiting staff. There is no menu choice but a vegetarian option is available and all dietary needs are catered for if stated when booking. Drinks are available to purchase from several bars. The only downside is that conversation is impossible owing to the volume of the background music which is quite overwhelming: one ends up shouting and even then after a few minutes, gives up!
Each course is served during intervals in the “entertainment”, which is 10% story and 90% cabaret. The plot, such as it is, concerns Mulan (Ella Cumber), who joins the International Forces Union in place of her father to fight against the Hun. She disguises herself as a man and is posted to the Moulin Rouge Nightclub in Paris (I don’t know why – and the music was too loud to ask….) where she falls in love…
The Nightclub Madame (Ruby Wednesday) holds court throughout. Others involved include Helena Fox as Private Dancer, Lizzy Cox as The Major, Carmella Brown as General Lee, Daisy Porter as Robin, Brett Sinclair as Roxy and Grace Kelly Miller who boasts a ‘can belto’ voice well suited to the venue. She appears to sing ‘live’ but many of the other numbers seem to be lip-synced to backing tracks.
All the cast work extremely hard to put over the rather hackneyed script by Shay Shay, and the piece would benefit from more imaginative direction. Performers use stages at either end of the long vault plus a walk-down through the centre which links them but everything is shouted through microphones, the result often being at such a high volume that you cannot hear what anyone is saying, the sound design is by Daffyd Gough.
Simple choreography is by Shay Shay and Alisa James and effective lighting by Clancy Flynn. Imaginative sets and costumes are by Christine Ting and Huan Urquhart.
MULAN ROUGE is certainly an experience!
Review by John Groves
Across the lands, a terrifying whisper is taking hold: The Huns are preparing to attack! Mulan disguises themself as a man to join the war effort, but when their regiment commandeers the glittering Mulan Rouge, they find themself surrounded by glitz, glamour and go-go girls. Come what may, Mulan’s identity must be kept secret to defeat The Huns and defend the honour of the Mulan Rouge. Though when they meet a girl worth fighting for, will the whole plan go up in smoke?
So grab all your soul sistas (lemme hear y’all flow sistas) and descend below the flames of Paris for a burning hot, drag-tastic soiree. Down here, diamonds really are a queen’s best friend.
Bohemians, you have been invited to the spectacular of the century, the Mulan Rouge! It’s time to leave your gender at the door, adorn your finest armour and pack your glitter purse – or risk bringing dishonour to us all.
This year, the heart of The Vaults has been transformed into the infamous Mulan Rouge, a scandalous haven of dancing and naughty delights.
The Vaults, with ShayShay, have taken the wonderful worlds of Disney’s Mulan and Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge and crashed together a drag-tastic parody – fusing comedy, burlesque and a feast to boot. This is a cabaret of fabulous kings and queens, set to take you on Mulan’s journey of self-discovery; and where better to make that discovery than the Mulan Rouge!
Written, Directed and Choreographed by ShayShay
Produced by The Vaults
Set and Costume by Christine Ting – Huan 挺欢 Urquhart
Lighting Design by Clancy Flynn
Sound Design by Daffyd Gough
Choreography by Alisa James