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Rose. Rabbit. Lie.’s ‘Vegas Nocturne’ is a parade of twisted thrills

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Choose your canto: Rose. Rabbit. Lie.’s Vegas Nocturne makes for a riveting centerpiece.
Jacob Coakley

four stars

Vegas Nocturne Wednesday-Saturday; 7:30, 9:30 p.m. and midnight; early shows $115 and $135, late show $30. Rose. Rabbit. Lie., 877-667-0585.

Vegas Nocturne, the show at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan, is disorienting, overwhelming and so much damn fun it feels like you must be getting away with something. Over the course of its three different shows it has so much acrobatics, magic, dancing, burlesque and comedy that the acts spill out into the restaurant and bar surrounding the show space, promising secret thrills behind every closed door.

Each “canto,” as they call the shows, is hosted by a ridiculously funny “family” and their servants: Alfonso (played by Lorenzo Pisoni), his servant Ripley (Spencer Novich), sister Beverley (Kasey Wilson), her servant Hrit (Laurie Hagan) and Alfonso’s step-twin-brother Winthrop (Jimmy Slonina). Their outrageous antics provide a framework for the shows, and while a couple performers appear in multiple cantos—like Piff the Magic Dragon, who combines a perfect deadpan with cartoon violence and an adorable Chihuahua for two outrageous and twisted tricks—each show is unique unto itself.

All fired up: Angie Sylvia burns her costume off during <em>Vegas Nocturne</em>’s midnight show.

All fired up: Angie Sylvia burns her costume off during Vegas Nocturne’s midnight show.

And each is stuffed with brazen and exceptional performances. Novich and Hagan show off their supernatural physical comedy skills in a bit with a pantomimed baby that puts the entire audience into hysterics punctuated by the occasional, “Oh my god.” Captain Frodo takes perverse delight in causing the crowd to squirm as he contorts his body through the heads of 12-inch and 10-inch tennis rackets. He hops around, falls off the stage, dislocates a shoulder and makes himself fit, all with incredible aplomb. There are more traditional acts, too. Sean and John Scott, two tap dancing virtuosos, switch from impeccably matched routines into stunning solos. Burlesque fire-eater Angie Sylvia ignites her costume as she peels it off in a sizzling routine in the midnight canto. And I can’t stop hearing the hand slaps and table-pounding rhythms from Peter Harding and Suzanne Cleary’s drug-fueled competition. Vocal performer Butterscotch accompanies acts throughout the night with her unreal beat-boxing, as well as sampling, looping and accompanying herself for a tender love ballad.

The shows do start slowly, which is a little confusing for the audiences. Although Lara Jacobs balancing a feather at the end of an ever-expanding lattice of palm fronds is nerve-wracking as hell, you can feel the audience shift in their seats as they wonder what show they’re seeing. And while Pisoni is debonair and charming as the host, too often he is called upon to rein in the other performers, when all the audience wants is to surrender to the craziness onstage. In the end, that’s exactly what happens, as the show guides the audience, laughing and gasping, into a final spectacle both simple and exhilarating.

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