Last week I had the pleasure of attending Olivia Bellafontaine’s The House of Red Velvet, an experience that can only be described as a spicy and erotic cocktail that’s two parts burlesque blended with a shot of adrenaline and a whole lot of “What did I just watch?” The show is held in the Red Room, a dark and intimate space tucked in the back of Bar Lubitsch, a Russian themed vodka bar in West Hollywood. The house was full and we were packed in like sardines, the room abuzz with ladies and gentlemen eager for a peep of something exotic and forbidden.
The audience fell silent as the lights dimmed and the audio kicked in. The introduction was in German, save for one phrase, “Good night.” Olivia opened the show draped in white netting, moving slowly but with purpose. A switchblade appeared as she began cutting herself, theater blood flowing freely as she sliced her way out of the netting. I looked around to see the audience’s reaction and they were all captivated, wide – eyed, watching her every move. I was searching for some sort of meaning to her movements and struggled to understand what she was trying to say through them. I thought perhaps I wasn’t the right audience for this show, that maybe there was a level of artistic comprehension I hadn’t come to in my 27 years on this planet. After a few moments of I shrugged these feelings off and thought, “Maybe I’m just thinking about it too much.” In that moment a woman made her way down the aisle dragging behind her another lovely lady attached to a leash, and just like that I was captivated with the story that began to unravel in front of me.
Scene after scene I began to realize that the show did not tell a linear story, rather it showcased a central theme through a series of individual vignettes. While all the ladies (and one gentleman) did a fantastic job I was captivated by three performances in particular. Erica Snap performed a strip tease that exuded confidence and sex appeal. The moment she walked on stage in a black body stocking, raven feathers, and gold animal mask, she took command of the entire room. She performed with so much energy and you felt your soul ignite when she looked into your eyes. When her piece was over we thought that the rest of the show would go downhill, but Jill Evyn took the stage and proved us all wrong. Her performance started slow and enchanting, then quickly blazed into the realm of pure exhilaration. In the handful of minutes she graced the stage I was taken on a ride through mourning, fear, panic, heartbreak, and empowerment. Her fire dance wowed the crowd and left us screaming for more. And finally Brynn Route performed an intricate ballet that tugged at my heartstrings. Overpowered by the only male character in the show, she struggled to gain freedom but could not prevail and ultimately ended up drowning in his rule. Olivia closed the show with a frenetic and powerful dance that made me so uncomfortable in all the best ways. (Seriously, stop frantically scratching your inner thigh!!) As the show ended with a “Good morning.” the audience jumped to their feet and applauded with such vigor you’d have thought a herd of elephants was stomping towards us.
What Olivia is able to accomplish is something truly incredible and unmatchable. She and her troupe are able to give a show that’s ambiguous enough to be left open for interpretation, leaving every person in that room with a completely different and very personal experience. Olivia builds these experiences from the ground up, taking care of everything from hand picking every piece of music to carefully choreographing scene transitions, and you can truly feel every ounce of passion and soul she pours into The House of Red Velvet. If you ever have the opportunity to partake in this deliciously dark delicacy, I highly recommend that you do. It was a wonderful date night and something I will definitely not forget.
You can keep up with Olivia’s projects at www.oliviabellafontaine.com and make sure to check out their next event, The Other Door, on December 21st. Tickets can be purchased at darkwinterhorv.brownpapertickets.com.