BIJOU, an extraordinary piece of theatre in cabaret form, takes us to a café bar in Paris in 1933. Richly decorated tables, jewel-coloured curtains, shadows and flickering candlelight, create a warm, sumptuous, if somewhat seedy, bohemian den of delight.

Madame Bijou, in her faded finery and fake pearls, is a habitué of the bars, earning a meagre living by telling stories and reading palms. She has just caught sight of an unflattering photograph of herself, taken by Hungarian photographer Brassai the year before.  The shock of this unleashes a string of intimate memories that unfold her torrid life story backwards in time from the 1933 ‘present’ to the 1870s. Through seductions, love affairs, wars, devastating betrayal and loss, Madame Bijou survives and reinvents herself. She’s the Madam of a high-class brothel, the divorced wife of a German General, a semi-naked beauty in an 1880s stage tableau, an exotic interpretive dancer, a rich courtesan, the seductive mistress of a rich elderly patron, the 17 year-old lover of a symbolist poet, a child who loses her father in a political execution…and that’s not all!

Each piece of her jewellery is the trigger for a story, songs and music awaken memories and carry the stories forward. She recalls her loves and the betrayals that have scarred her life. She returns to the dances, poems and songs of her youth, sometimes with pathos, often with hilarity.

BIJOU is a cabaret performance of memorable intensity, giving the audience a jewel like cameo of a woman’s survival through war and peace, love and abuse, folly and fortune. It gives a rare glimpse into the private and very sensual world of an ageing woman in paris…truly celebratory, as, contrary to popular belief, we see that an older woman can exude sensuality, and be thoroughly engaging!

BIJOU embodies the best of the European cabaret tradition. All the elements of Paris’s original Le Chat Noir cabaret are embedded in this remarkable show: the songs, the dances, the recitations, the shadow theatre, and the unraveling of a colourful tale by a wonderfully irascible, mischievous, beguiling story-teller.

Chrissie Shaw, award-winning theatre and music veteran, is joined by leading accompanist Alan Hicks on piano, as the long-suffering bar pianist and occasional reciter of Symbolist poetry.

A ‘gem of a cabaret’, BIJOU had a sell-out season at The Street Theatre Canberra in August 2013. Chrissie Shaw was the recipient of two awards for the show, the 2013 Equity Greenroom Award and a Critics Circle Award. Bijou – A Cabaret of Secrets and Seduction has toured to Riverside Theatres Parramatta, had a return season at The Street Theatre in 2015, two regional tours in NSW, and a special performance at The Famous Spiegeltent in March 2016. Also in 2016 the show had two seasons in Melbourne (La Mama and The Butterfly Club) and a season at the Depot Theatre in Sydney.


Writer Chrissie Shaw
Dramaturgs Peter Matheson
Susan Pilbeam
Director Susan Pilbeam
Choreographer Liz Lea
Music Choices Chrissie Shaw
Alan Hicks
Design Imogen Keen
Costumes Victoria Worley

Duration of show:

 90 minutes counting a 20-minute interval. The show can be performed without interval.

Target Audience:

Cabaret audience, Francophiles, General Theatre audience, 15 years and over.

 Bijou Cabaret


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