Hasenpfeffer, White Rabbit Cabaret
White Rabbit Cabaret suggests the kind of place where, once upon a time, the air would have been thick with cigarette smoke and the floorshow pushed the boundaries of conventional morality to the point where being in the audience could be both scandalous and cool. But in our age of whole grain decadence, where preoccupations with safety and salaciousness do a wobbly two-step, creating a public atmosphere with something like an erotic charge is hard. Debra Silveus' Hasenpfeffer, White Rabbit Cabaret's house ensemble, deserves credit for giving it a try. Silveus' choreography for Motus gave that group a transgressive edge. Here, within the confines of a hybrid minstrel show/burlesque melodrama, her work feels more predictable – some of this is due to the space (sightlines in the club are problematic; floor work is all but impossible to see if you're not in the front row), and the format. The minstrel emcees provide a running commentary. One emcee is silent, the other does the talking – but he's neither funny nor charismatic enough to make himself a compelling part of the show. That job is left to the dancers, whose work is skillful but cautious; it's like they're pretending to be sexy. This illusion was sufficient for the standing-room-only audience on opening night. They whooped and cheered throughout the performance with genuine enthusiasm. Silveus is on to something here – trying to put dance worthy of the name in a club setting. If she can invest that with an equal measure of theatricality, Hasenpfeffer could be dangerous. Next show Friday, July 7 at 10 p.m. www.whiterabbitcabaret.com.