BIJOU – A CABARET OF SECRETS AND SEDUCTION: an extraordinary tour de force through time.

Shorter Media Release

Enjoy an evening in a cosy Parisian bar, as Bijou and her wonderful pianist spin a musical tale!

 You’re transported to a café-bar in Paris 1933. A wine, a chat; the music plays… there’s a new face in the crowd. A ravaged figure in faded finery and fake pearls, enters and the evening takes an unexpected turn. ‘Bijou’, former Queen of the Demi-Monde, unleashes a cascade of intimate, colourful memories, taking us backwards in time to the shadows of her youth.

Bijou survives a hard world by constantly reinventing herself. A young ingénue on the stage of the Paris Varietees, a high-class Courtesan, the hard-bitten Madame of a highly imaginative house of joy, a vulnerable child at the mercy of the adults around her, Bijou emerges triumphant after taking us on a rollicking journey.

This sumptuous, funny, poignant cabaret peeps into the private, sensual world of a riveting Parisienne d’un certain age. Music of Satie, Weill, Hollander, Bruant and others, accompanies her stories and songs. Chrissie Shaw, award-winning theatre veteran, is joined by leading accompanist Alan Hicks as the long-suffering bar pianist.

More detailed information:

In a Parisian café bar in 1933 we meet Bijou. She is one of the night people, captured in Brassai’s revealing photographs of depression era Paris.  Frayed at the edges, they recall the glory days of the Belle Epoque, the mad excitement of the 1920s, as they drink, sing and scratch for survival while the world moves inexorably towards another world war.

One of Brassai’s images of Madame Bijou was the catalyst for this extraordinary production. Bijou’s decaying glory, the pride she takes in her jewels speaking of past triumphs and  passions, are the beginning points for the unravelling of a tumultuous tale.

Brassai’s book Paris de nuit appears a year later than the photos. Bijou is described as a nightmare of the streets. Needless to say this is not well received by the feisty Madame Bijou…

Bijou, once queen of the Demi-Monde roves from bar to bar, holding mad court in her tattered finery, draped in fake jewellery. Hers is a blurred world of wine-fed dreams and memories of her haphazard life. She entertains the patrons, a moving parody of her former self, exchanging tales of love and lust for a drink, a bite to eat and a sou or two.

But tonight she is jolted from her dream-world by the unkind image of her taken by Brassai. Past and present collide in a bizarre confusion of song, dance and bawdy revelations, as we witness the shattering of mind and memory.

This rich cabaret-style entertainment, paints a picture of a colourful life, with music from French and German operetta, romance, political anthems, nursery rhymes, dances from the waltz and Charleston to exotic Eastern interpretation a la Loie Fuller and Isadora Duncan. Sad and comic, moving and in parts shocking, Bijou – A Cabaret of Secrets and Seduction transports audiences to a nether-world in Paris from the 1930s back to the 1870s.

Chrissie Shaw is Bijou, Alan Hicks is the Pianist.

Direction: Susan Pilbeam. Choreography: Liz Lea. Set design: Imogen Keen. Costumes: Victoria Worley.

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