Frank Olivier's Twisted Cabaret

A crazed and dangerous night of vaudeville


Tickets are $38-42


Ongoing at Mason Street Theater, 340 Mason (between Geary and O'Farrell), S.F.

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Frank Olivier can't keep a straight face while he's onstage, as if it's hard to believe, even for him, that people will pay to watch him juggle and throw knives. His show is either a postmodern satire of Teatro ZinZanni or plain crazy. Only a few minutes into the program he's whirling two wooden canes around his head, one hooked -- loosely -- to the other, so the audience thinks one cane will fly, at any moment, into the seats. Then he threatens to juggle knives. Later a magic act with a white dove goes horribly wrong; so does an audience-participation trick involving a little guillotine. A magician named "Unkle Paul" Nathan (who puts on his own cabarets now and then) and an alter ego named Maurice -- along with the Twisted Cabaret band -- keep the show moving at a nervous clip, but Olivier has the most pungent material, unable to resist even fart humor or Monica Lewinsky jokes. The most impressive skit, Café de Flambé, includes a menu, a bowl of soup, and a shish kebab course that arrive at the table in flames for Olivier to handle or consume. The weirdest skit may belong to "Yogi Frankananda" (Olivier), who does a silly trick with his nose and a piece of string, but competition for weirdest is stiff in the Twisted Cabaret. When it's over you feel lucky to walk home unbandaged, unbloodied, and whole.

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