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Meow Meow Feline Intimate (London Wonderground)

Her heady mix of song, cabaret and comedy has Meow Meow’s audience rolling over and purring

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Meow Meow
© Jonathan Ellenor

Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst may feel she currently wears the crown for looking ravishing in gold sequins while singing her heart out.

But in the Southbank's Wonderground, international cabaret diva, dancer and performance artist Meow Meow takes fabulousness to a whole new level in her show, Feline Intimate.

From her first glittering entrance, spilling out of an eye-popping corset dress, she demands – and receives – adulation and obedience, exhorting any slackers to ‘make an effort' as the show progresses.

Lamenting the come-down of "camping" in the plush Spiegeltent under Hungerford Bridge – after performing Little Match Girl at the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hall last December – Meow Meow makes the best of the shortcomings of her reduced circumstances. If she can't keep her hired costume, well, her band are going to have to strip off too…

And what a band they are, even in their unusual undies. Lance Horne on piano and Mike Porter on percussion create a rich, thrilling sound to accompany the show's heady mix of torch songs and Sally Bowles-style European cabaret belters, with a Radiohead number dropped in just to mix things up.

Meow Meow's own song, "Hotel Amour", co-written with Thomas Lauderdale of Pink Martini, is a poignant anthem to the elusiveness of love, and her stunning vocal range is given full rein in the manic, multi-lingual rendition of "Itsy Bitsy".

And not since Eartha Kitt has anyone purred, growled and rolled their rrr's quite so tigerishly as she manages in "No Cure For L'Amour".

Australian born Meow Meow, otherwise known as Melissa Madden Gray, recently toured with Barry Humphries and the Australian Chamber Orchestra , performing lost and re-found works from Weimar Germany in the 1920s.

Certainly Meow Meow exerts the same merciless level of crowd control as Humphries' Dame Edna at her best, selecting humble young men to serve variously as microphone stands, chairs and leg-fondlers.

The passion and anguish of ‘‘Ne Me Quitte Pas'' is brilliantly undermined by these hapless audience helpers, who have no way to quitte the stage, clamped firmly as they are to Ms Meow Meow's nether regions.

Feline Intimate is the best sort of glamorous vaudeville with a deliberately shambolic edge. Meow Meow is known to enjoy a spot of crowd-surfing, though presumably she checks out the audience before committing herself to a launch. But there are plenty of willing arms in this packed house and she is borne aloft for a riotous tour of the Spiegeltent, with a quick stop-off at the bar en route.

Calamitous, camp and very funny, the show is securely built on Meow Meow's breathtaking vocal power and ingenuity.

What a gal.


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