Dietrich would die if she knew what went on beneath the sheets at Bernadette Byrne and Victor Victoria’s Eastend Cabaret. From the political pedestals of Communist Russia to the backrooms of Thai whorehouses, the captivating pair presents a tightly controlled hour long show which is at once both excellently scripted and refreshingly spontaneous.
The show’s titular red banners promise that The Revolution Will Be Sexual and its commitment to frank sexuality is nothing short of tantric. It revels in the joys of the juvenile, grossing out its delighted audience with well-constructed and shockingly funny songs about everything from incestuous necrophilia to ping-pong tricks. Mr. Little Red Book’s Guide to Sex, the sole sketch of the evening, is an articulate and intelligent propaganda pornography lesson for copulating Communists and it is somewhat disappointing that they rely on the gratuitous, amusing as it is, than the grey matter.
As a cabaret pair, they are faultless. Bernadette, the brasher of the two, strides the stage like a Valkyrie, a fallen flapper dressed in black sequins who distils the charming grotesque of drag into her female character. With lots of Lenya in her voice, her vocal is complemented exquisitely by Victor’s musical accompaniment on the piano, accordion and saw. Hooking Weill-inspired chords onto recognisable pop numbers, Victor’s Weimar is clearly and colourfully evoked, bolstered by a gleeful sense of anachronism and a charming, jealous vulnerability which softens the edges of the set and greatly fleshes out the characters’ ambivalent, fragmented relationship.
A steamy and sophisticated piece of revolutionary contemporary cabaret.
Eastend Cabaret: The Revolution Will be Sexual is on at Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, 3-28 August, 9.55pm (45mins)