The desperate divas are back in town. Following last year’s successful “Cabaret Whore!” Sarah-Louise Young returns with four alter egos who sketch out their lives in song.
It’s clear that some fans have also returned. Her first character, Bernie Sinclair welcomes a healthy audience waiting at the door. The adjoining show by comparison draws not a single audience member.
Bernie is a diva of a certain age, coming from off, off, off Broadway for her final comeback tour. She’s an endearing old stager, chatting with the audience while launching an attack on those who have crossed her during her hard life. But help is at hand in the form of a rousing salute to the drugs that keep her shining through. It’s a great cabaret performance – never mind that it’s also well observed and funny.
The changes of character are once again seamless, no more so than to the cookie Kaisa, an Eastern European performance artist and “hidden gem from the rusty crown of communism”. In a shiny pink lycra outfit she channels the voice of her magical and beloved ukulele and offers up her Eurovision entry describing her problems in falling in love with a English man. It’s classic of Young’s style, full of plays on words and the vagaries of the English language.
To “put the spiritual spring in our secular step” is Sister Carol Anne with her self proclaimed ministry to clean up cabaret. Behind the happy-clappy exterior is a more tortured figure whose normal upbringing has robbed her of sob story and thus the means of getting any attention.
Making a welcome return from the dark heart of Paris is La Poule Plombée, the unknown friend of Édith Piaf and Frumpy Pigeon to her Little Sparrow. In black sheath dress and with wild hair she is the embodiment of tortured diva – “Piaf gets more work – and she is dead”.
Overall it’s a great performance but the show lacks the belly laughs of its predecessor and for a Fringe audience could probably take a few more risks. La Poule comments that “the others are just for warm up” and there is a little sense of that being true. Even so it’s a worthy Encore!
Times: 5-29 (not 16 or 23) August 2010, 6.15pm