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Photography: John Johnson / johnjohnson-photography.com

CAVES OF KRONIA – THE FINAL EPOCH

Invisible Wind Factory 31/12/16

One year on from the spectacularly imagined, superbly realised Return To Planet Kronos that brought the Kazimier era to a suitably out-there, emotionally charged ending (end of the location, not the ethos, you understand), the Kaz team seek to celebrate the first year in their new home, the Invisible Wind Factory, with another piece of theatrical cabaret, the CAVES OF KRONIA.

As always, there’s a theme you can get yourselves sartorially prepped for if you want to be part of the spectacle, or just to get in the mood if you’re going along as a spectator (tonight we are invited by Fortuna, The Weaver of Fate, to visit the Caves of Kronia, source of crystal on Planet Kronos). And, again as always, the vast majority of people seem to have put an amazing amount of thought and energy into embracing the whole concept of the evening and dressing accordingly.

We are ushered down steps, welcomed by hard-hatted assistants and shown the entrance to the Caves of Kronia. Through the cellar space of the IWF in near darkness we scrunch our way along a gravel path, winding between columns of flashing lights, our very own yellow brick road leading us in an amused, whatever-next state of anticipation towards the Oz of our imaginations. A deep, industrial rumble accompanies our progress.

Up a couple of flights of stairs, and we burst onto the main stage to be confronted by a kaleidoscope of movement, colour and sound. Entering onto the main stage is a neat way of making people feel immediately a part of the spectacle, you almost feel as though someone should announce your name as you descend the steps to join the throng, which, even early in the evening, is pretty substantial.

An electro-pop duo are playing on a second stage, spinning the crowd right round, and various fortune tellers are regaling delighted punters with details of their fate. The costume competition develops into a wacky gameshow, the four fates – Creation, Order, Chance and Doom – all represented and encapsulating the ‘Cabaret meets Alice In Wonderland with a twist of glam’ vibe of the evening, whils creatures from the darkest Mittel-European forests dance with futuristic automatons. “I’m in the fifth dimension,” whispers one first-timer, and I talk to several newcomers who all appear to be happily dazzled by proceedings. Doom’s candidate takes to the stage. “What’s your name,” asks our host. “Obsidian” states the bare-chested, high-heeled, leather-clad extra from a Frankie video as the Wheel of Fate begins to spin behind them. The Caves of Kronia are mined for crystals and they hang, spinning from the ceiling, shining like misshapen, fossilised disco balls. Lady Lindsay wins the crystal growing competition, and rushes down from the balcony to receive her prize before a fairly unruly barn dance, in which the instructions from the stage take twice as long as the dances themselves. No one seems to care as they wheel and cavort in a Circle Dance of Chaos.

There follows a short hiatus as the crowd gravitates towards the main stage, which has been quietly transformed behind our backs, a four-tiered platform now at the centre. Enter Fortuna to a thunderous drumbeat and the kind of choral music that ratchets up the tension in a Hammer horror film. Her attendants sit below her and they are joined by a troupe of lantern assistants as the four Fates make their entrance: Chance takes the opportunity to spunk silly string over the audience; Doom is roundly booed before being defeated by our flying hero, Captain Kronos, who counts the New Year in before letting fly salvos of confetti over a cheering, bouncing crowd. The costumes are superb, Fortuna’s illuminated veil and many pointed headdress the pièce de résistance, and, whatever the venue, it appears that the Kaz team can put on a show mixing imaginative music and theatre with a tongue-in-cheek sensibility that ensures a great party. The dancefloor is jammed as the hits keep coming: Sylvester feels mighty real, Devo whip it good and Queen aren’t stopping any time soon because Dipsy et al are having a ball.

And after all that you get DOGSHOW. The Crombie brothers’ drum and synth wizardry ensures that the party continues with a collection of irresistible beats and soaring electronica accompanied by a dazzling lightshow that turns the crystal backed stage into an Escheresque checkerboard.

This year we walk out into the night without the bittersweet smile on our faces. The new Epoch has begun.

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