Le Gateau Chocolat: Black, review by Stephen Vowles

Descriptive adjectives such as extraordinary, mesmerising, comic and soulful are so apt when it comes to describing the powerhouse vocalist that is Le Gateau Chocolat. He is larger than life and his strong stage persona is undeniable. Today he exudes confidence but via this special piece of theatre this one-man show describes his journey from ‘Little Black’ in Nigeria to the man that now stands on a stage.

Sitting pensively on an unmade bed staring up into the air he starts the show and with the Psappha New Music Ensemble behind him. He bursts into song and within minutes he has the audience hanging on his every phrase as he performs Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit. There is a noticeable silence as he whispers the last note, a haunting echo of a torch song that raised goosebumps.

Comedy elements were very funny and he did not mind telling the audience how he dealt with being fat (his word). The timbre of his voice partnered with the facial expressions make him a unique individual.

Fearful of stepping into the spotlight as the disco version of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody reverberated across the theatre, a true highlife occurred when he made the song his own by slowing it right down and turning it into a very emotional ballad that he thought best described his life to date. He is honest about how he deals with regular bouts of depression, but as the show drew to close his message is awesome, and it’s one of hope. Black was a heartfelt 60 minutes of magic where Le Gateau shone as brightly as a black opal. SV

Black was at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, E15

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