Review: Cabaret Whore – Pulse Fringe Festival

Life is a Cabaret old chum, come to the Cabaret. Sally Bowles has never been to a Cabaret quite like Cabaret Whore though.

Four of Cabaret’s most celebrated divas have been brought together on one bill to celebrate the splendours of the art form.

Each has their own unique take on Cabaret, each desperately trying to cling to a rapidly dimming spotlight and career.

Welcoming audiences to the show is star of off, off, off, off Broadway, Bernie St Claire who bears more than a passing resemblance to Judy Garland. She chats to her audience; signs autograph for a critic and scours the auditorium for alcohol.

She is, as she freely admits, ‘a Diva of a certain age’ who sings of her jealousy of Elaine Paige, her unfortunate name and her ‘love’ for her daughter. This is of course the world of Cabaret so it’s not a traditional ode to love with lyrics thanking her daughter for ‘making my life a write-off’ and ‘if you hadn’t been born my life would have been better.’

Second Diva of the evening is Kasha – the gem in the rusty crown of communism. Clad in a bright pink lycra jumpsuit she mangles both English and music to provide a parody of performance artists.

Third to enter the spotlight is a faded star of children’s classic Rainbow Creek. Despite being 33 years since her heyday, Babydoll is still clad in her blonde ringlets and bright yellow dress, a spooky aged version of the plastic doll she lives her life with. Despite the outward chirpy nature there’s something sinister about this child/adult hybrid and her relationship with ‘Daddy’.

Headline act of the evening is French Chanteuse La Poule Plombée. Former singing partner to Edith Piaf ‘The Little Sparrow’, this is ‘The Frumpy Pigeon.’ It may not be wise to mention Piaf’s name though to the knife wielding manic French woman – she blames Piaf for dumping her and exiling her to the cultural wilderness of London.

Four wonderful creations all by one talented actress Sarah-Louise Young.

Each character is beautifully observed and sung with real passion. Her lyrics (with music by Michael Roulston) capture the pain of these tortured women but also reduce the audience to tears with their acidic comedy. There’s a deceptively simple feel to this show but, although the quartet of Diva’s are by nature grotesque parodies, there is something chillingly recognisable in all of them.

Young’s vocal range is impressive and her comic timing spot on but she also encompasses the passion and sadness in these four unique women. Life may be a Cabaret but you’ll have never seen such a lively cabaret as this. Vive la Frumpy Pigeon!

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