Review: FOOL'S MOON, Soho Theatre

The production ran on 19 February

By: Feb. 20, 2024
Review: FOOL'S MOON, Soho Theatre
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Review: FOOL'S MOON, Soho Theatre

“I’m not making any sense, am I?”

Fool’s Moon is a self-described “anarchic, genre-bending cabaret night where the mischievous come out and play.” Walking into the Soho Theatre Downstairs, you are greeted by large red curtains covering the typical standup background of the brick wall. Jazz music plays throughout the preshow, making for a very well-themed underground cabaret. We are then introduced to our host, Paulina Lenoir, an “international poet” with a French accent and a penchant for dancing around the stage. Lenoir introduces us to the theme of tonight’s Fool’s Moon, a mystery she is attempting to solve - “What is love?”

The first act is performed by Dolly Kershaw, who emerges from the curtains dressed as a giant nose. Kershaw begins by sniffing audience members before performing a ballet-like sequence, “dancing” by twitching the nose’s nostrils. There was also quite a funny section in which feather dusters appeared from behind the red curtains to make the nose sneeze. Unfortunately, the sight lines meant that it was impossible to see most of the act from the back of the room, but there were several moments in which the audience was roaring with laughter at bits I was unable to see. In fact, there were several times throughout the cabaret that I could not see what was happening, which made it impossible to react to the performers. 

Host Lenoir returns throughout the show, typically appearing in the audience between acts in order to give the stagehands time to prepare for the next cabaret act. In a desperate attempt to be cured of love, Lenoir makes a love potion out of the hair of a virgin, the sweat of a nervous man, the breath of someone divorced (or soon to be, Lenoir claims) and a half-drunk drink. At another point, she presents one of her poems, which includes her lip-synching to roars as she crawls around the crowded room like a lion. 

At one point, Lorna Rose Treen appears in the audience, playing the role of “Girl from your dreams come to life,” holding a torch up to her face and going up to audience members in the dark to ask them questions. After another bit from Lenoir in which she appears in a rose costume, at first gently tossing roses and then flinging them like frisbees into the audience as a way of expressing her love, Fran Lobo took to the stage to perform a song. While Lobo has a lovely singing voice, the sadness of the piece did bring down the mood of the cabaret and slowed down the show, detracting from its fun speed. 

The next performer was Cabbage the Clown, who appeared dressed as a giant pink and white hat on the run from police. They then reveal an even smaller hat underneath the original hat and the act turns into a striptease performance, which was a bit of a disappointment as I was hoping to see more of Cabbage’s comedic abilities that had been shown while under the large hat. 

Lorna Rose Treen returns, this time on stage as a chain-smoking woman who can’t pronounce her “rs,” beginning with “Wow . . . What a stwange bar” to peals of laughter. This bit also includes the joke that won Treen Dave’s Funniest Joke of the Fringe Award, “I started dating a zookeeper, but it turned out he was a cheetah.”

For a dramatic finale, Lenoir declares that, in order to prove her love to the audience, she will die for them, which leads to protests from the audience and laughter from Lenoir. Lobo returns to close the show with another slow song before ending with a more upbeat performance in which all of the performers went on stage and danced along, making for a lovely curtain call. 

One of the highlights of the show for me was its music, particularly the pieces played during Lenoir’s hosting sections. At one point when Lenoir is having a mental breakdown and jumping around the stage, Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” plays in the background, which makes the stomping around even more hilarious with context to the piece. 

Fool’s Moon has a fascinating concept and a great host, but the acts do not create the coherent structure that one may be hoping for. The acts by themselves are quite good, but being unable to see most of them definitely took away from the experience. I do look forward to seeing more from Paulina Lenoir in the future and plan on attending the next Fool’s Moon to see what it will bring. 

Editor's note: The producers have informed us that the venue altered the stage height less than 24 hours before performance. They have assured us that the sight lines will be improved for future performances.

Fool’s Moon ran on 19 February at Soho Theatre. Two more performances are scheduled for 13 May and 1 July.