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‘Absinthe’ shocks and awes in Las Vegas

Melody Sweets stars as Chanteuse “Absinthe” playing Caesars Palace Las Vegas. | TOM DONOGHUE PHOTO

Melody Sweets stars as the Chanteuse in “Absinthe,” playing at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. | TOM DONOGHUE PHOTO

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— Open Run

— Caesars Palace, 3570 S. Las Vegas Blvd.

— Tickets (18+over): (not including taxes) $99; VIP packages, $114-$124

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Updated: October 7, 2013 4:38PM

LAS VEGAS — Don’t let the unassuming white circuslike tent fool you.

For inside the enclosure, ensconced Strip-side at Caesars Palace since 2011, resides the world of “Absinthe,” the totally off-the-wall, sexy, funny, unabashedly raunchy and absolutely adults-only cabaret/circus sideshow/variety production that will either entertain you immensely, or send you running for the exits blushing in shock.

While it conjures memories of “La Soiree,” a bawdy cirque/cabaret production that made its way to Chicago last year, “Absinthe” is its distant, very twisted cousin. You have been warned.

Everything about “Absinthe” — inside its lavishly decorated climate-controlled tent (glorious chandeliers, antique mirrors, velvet settees, tchotckies of every variety), complete with one single, very tiny circular stage surrounded by a combination of cabaret tables, folding chairs and wooden deck chairs — is meant to push the envelope of daredevil cirque acts and common decency. Life is a cabaret, my friend, and “Absinthe” is living it to the fullest.

The name of the show, taken from the once-banished, highly alcoholic spirit, favored by artists and the aristocracy alike in the 18th and 19th centuries (it was banned for decades in many countries including the U.S. until recently), is both a literal and metaphoric homage the deepest, darkest recesses of human behavior, unfolding in 90 minutes.

Let’s begin with the characters of The Gazillionaire, the master of ceremonies, on this particular evening portrayed by Matt Morgan, and his standup comedienne/partner in crime Dorothy, portrayed by Heidi Brucker. The two possess split-second timing when it comes to their completely uncensored, venomous vocabulary of swear words, insults of all kinds to all kinds of people, sexual proclamations — in short, not only would they make a sailor blush, they’d cause him to pass out. Funny? Yes, for the mostpart. Shocking? Absolutely. Mission accomplished.

The entertainment kicks off in high style with the “chair mountain” balancing act of Maxim Popazov, who takes a sip of “absinthe,” succumbs to its hallucinogenic powers and proceeds to create a tower of chairs atop an old desk upon which he perched precariously at every turn. The “Green Fairy” (the nickname for absinthe due to the beverage’s gorgeous green color), is portrayed by Melody Sweets, a stunning chanteuse with a sultry voice who has an affinity for taking her clothes off as the music plays on. She provides the perfect segue in between acts that include Angel Porrino as the “Weather Girl,” semi-nude (pasties notwithstanding), steps inside a gigantic balloon for a moment of wonder and comedy.

Rollerskaters Sven Rauhe and Roma Hervida perform death-defying spins and acrobatics on the tiny stage, with Hervida’s face or head precariously close to the floor at times, her body seemingly ready to be projected to the far reaches of the tent at others, as her partner swings her round and round and up and down.

On the more elegant end of the spectrum are Alexa Hukari and Ming Fang, who perform a gorgeous double-strap aerial pas de deux, and Oxana Solamanchuk, whose leather-and-chains, aerial acrobatics water act is both a testament to her dexterity and, well, naughtiness.

The “Duo Vector,” two “body guards” who suddenly discard their “Men in Black” attire for the necessary skin-tight gymnasts’ body suits, perform the evening’s show-stopper act of statue-like strength balancing. I’ve seen similar acts in other productions; this is one of the best.

Thus goes the evening at “Absinthe,” where the vulgarity and semi-nudity are almost distracting when you realize how very talented these circus performers are.

Note: The banter between the Gazillionaire and Dorothy took a very bad turn on this particular September night, when the redhead decided that rape was a very funny topic for her snare-drum one-liners. Unforgivable.


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