Great contrast Saturday night between the prosaic throngs of drunken college students and bachelorette-partiers out on East Carson Street and the scene inside the Rex Theater, at this annual cabaret. Safe to say there were more corsets, vinyl garments and emptied tubes of white face paint in the Rex than on the rest of the South Side combined.
The show onstage wasn’t bad, either. This year’s Morose & Macabre’s House of Oddities dark-themed performance showcase posited the Rex as a haunted theater, and each of the acts as a ghost re-living the grisly circumstances of his or her death.
The very goth crowd (notwithstanding the occasional zombie, kilt-wearer or arts editor in boring jeans and T-shirt) watched emcee/medium Madame Lilith DeVille introduce a series of mostly musical and burlesque acts. One dancer reprised her death by Jim Jones Kool-Aid cult. Another act was a Brechtian pantomine that ended with the female dancer, wearing a skull mask, stabbing the male partner who’d dispatched her to the afterlife. A third burlesque act opened with the dancer disemboweling herself (though things got a little lighter from there).
Co-founder Macabre Noir contributed her own compellingly creepy dance act. And the music included a lovely bowed-cello-and-vocals interlude from Phat Man Dee.
True, the sightlines aren’t always great when half the crowd’s in either platform shoes or stilettoes. But whether you wanted to peruse the in-house bazaar for lamps made from animal pelvises, watch Cherri Baum (pictured) float through the crowd in spectral array, or just soak up the atmosphere, The Atrocity Exhibition might be one to mark on your calendar for next year.