According to Wikipedia, the beverage absinthe "has been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug" the same can be said of the current production of "Absinthe" appearing at Caesar’s Palace. Fun, bawdy and more than a little addictive, this is a show you want to take your friends to see (mostly because you just want to see it again yourself)!
Evoking the bohemian lifestyle, "Absinthe" is associated with the moment you enter the spiegletent and are submerged into a world that feels very much like what you might imagine the traveling tent entertainments to be in 20th Century Europe.
One of the greatest things about being in this environment is that it feels so intimate, the seemingly close walls covered in art, the wooden chairs creating seating in the round and the center stage make it feel as though you could reach out and touch the show as well as watch it.
But what we learn early on is that our hosts for the evening, "The Gazillionaire" and his faithful sidekick, "Penny" just might end up touching us before the evening is through.
The cast consists of a talented group of specialty performers. There’s the Gazillionaire’s butler, "Max" who is a talented acrobat, and "Melody Sweets" as "The Green Fairy", who is the only and very talented vocalist in the show (but not the only one to bare her breasts).
"Atlantis" is a four-man gymnast group that impresses by pressing one another to new heights, "Oxsana The Unpronounceable" tantalizes the audience far above their heads, and "The Weather Girl" does things you never thought to do with a balloon -- much less while tap dancing. "Duo Vector" features a couple of men that create art from the strength of their nearly naked sculpted bodies and strength, and "The Esteemed Gentlemen of the Highwire" have the audience holding their breath as they dazzle them.
What makes this show so unique is that while all of the performers are obviously trained professionals, they make it seem as if the evening is all improvised and that anything might happen during our absinthe induced time in the spiegletent. This is a credit to the production team and mostly to our hosts of the evening, "The Gazillionaire" (who gives the appearance of Borat with too much relaxer on his hair and a performance akin to the biting wit of Don Rickles) and "Penny" (a Gracie Allen for 2011 who will have you shaking your head at her silliness combined with things that come from her mouth that cannot be printed here).
They take improvised and scripted theatre, mash it up and leave us laughing louder than we think we should at their bawdy and politically incorrect dialogue. The hosts shine the most perhaps when appearing as "Ivana and Ivana Checkov-Jones" in their hysterical "pas de don’t" of sorts.
During the opening announcements the audience is told that they may tweet during the show but not use a flash in their photography; this makes for the only annoying part of the evening. Most of the audience seemed more interested in holding their smartphones up to record bits of the show than actually enjoying it while the performance was happening.
The light cast from people holding their phones above their heads to "catch the action" made it sometimes difficult to see for those of us who just wanted to enjoy the show in real time. But maybe that’s what "Absinthe" is all about. Maybe it’s Cirque du Soleil for the Twitter generation?
In a Vegas where almost every Strip property packs thousands into a theatre to see hundreds of performers in bizarre makeup and costumes, "Absinthe" packs in hundreds of people to see a quirky cast of less than 20, who entertain just as much and let their audience of hundreds tweet and social media their experience to their own thousands of followers on their various feeds while its happening. Oh it’s annoying all right, but it doesn’t ruin the evening by any means.
In a Vegas where entertainment can sometimes seem too slick and safe, "Absinthe" hides its slickness by pushing to the edge with gritty performances that makes you feel a little dirty (liking it) and a little afraid of becoming addicted to it.
"Absinthe" enjoys an extended run at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. For info or tickets visit absinthevegas.com