Absinthe: a review

Absinthe has historically often been called “la fée verte” (The Green Fairy, in French) and was banned in many countries for being dangerously addictive. Well, “plus ca change” as the French say…


Absinthe was one of those shows that was on our “to do” list all Summer long but kept getting bumped by gigs, by friends in town wanting to visit other shows, and generally by there just being so many ways to spend an evening  eating and drinking in Vegas.

When we first went , the show had just announced that it was going to close as the tent in which it was hosted only had a permit to be outside Caesars until mid-September. In those last two weeks, we returned several times. And we’ve been back since it re-opened in a bigger, sturdier tent. And we’ve even bought tickets for the return visits this year. Basically, if we are in Vegas and we have friends visiting, Absinthe is the show we take them to. Stop reading right now. Go book your tickets online, then come back and read the rest of this. Seriously. You’ll either be in the 95% of the audience who spent the show alternating between jaw-dropping-looks-of-awe and pant-wettingly-funny-tears-of-laughter-rolling-down-your-face or you will be in the other 5% whose discomfort will be making the other 95% have tears of laughter…

Anyway, we’ve got ahead of ourselves. It’s been a while since we’ve written one of these reviews. That’s what happens when you revamp a site and spend loads of time in Vegas “researching” for the new site.

Absinthe can be thought of as an old-school variety show with a Cirque-style twist to the acts and with a hilarious politically incorrect slant to the banter between the acts.

Actually, I may have to change that description. We’ve fell into the habit over the past decade or so of describing shows as “Cirque-like” if they add whimsy or originality or wonder to traditional gymnastic/acrobatic routines. And it’s been over-used as it tends to be used to describe anything where a story is added to traditional “circus-style” routines. In future, I think “Absinthe-like” will be used to describe acts that ooze originality combined with a deep visceral sense of danger, acts that cross boundaries and dare to have an edge, a bite, take risks.

You’ll notice that I’ve steered clear of actually describing much of the show. That’s for a reason. I think the show works well not knowing exactly what is going to happen at every point, being unaware of what will happen next – after the first ten minutes, that unknown and uncertainty will heighten your enjoyment/fear of the show.

I could describe the main elements as some very fast, very dangerous rollerskating, some incredible acts of balance, some great high wire work, a balloon that just won’t burst, and some great humour. But that really wouldn’t do justice to the show.

Indeed, a massive part of the show is the politically incorrect banter and audience interaction which works on many levels. The Gazillionaire, your host for the evening, and his assistant Penny Pibbets target the politics, religion and race of the audience. In a show named after a banned alcoholic drink that made people mad, it is appropriate that no subject is taboo. Be aware that there are sexual comments. Lots of sexual comments. Lots of hilarious sexual comments. Lots of hilarious sexual comments targeted at the people who desperately want someone else to be picked on. The Gazillionaire can smell fear. He will find your deepest darkest secret.

In actual fact, the whole show seems to be drawn to boundaries and determined to cross as many as possible. Determined to see just how far they can push things before they get told to pull back. Determined to be as different as possible from some of the formulaic, bland shows that we’ve suffered over recent years.

Just see it. Book tickets for 2 consecutive nights. You’ll thank us later.

More info on the show is here. The Gazillionaire and his assistant are both on twitter. Follow them here: The Gazillionaire,Penny Pibbets.

Click on any of the photos below to open up a larger slideshow.


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