It’s official: cabaret has made an established return to mainstream London nightlife
Me! Me! Me! at the Lost Theatre, Wandsworth
It’s official: cabaret has made an established return to mainstream London nightlife with venues such as Proud and Volupté in the City and Madame JoJo’s in the West End acting as trailblazers and new venues such as the Leicester Square Theatre and Crazy Coqs at Zédel taking up the mantle. Even established jazz venues are turning to the dark side.
Let’s get one thing straight: when I say cabaret, I don’t mean burlesque, nipple tassels or drag queens lip-synching to I Will Survive. No, I’m talking about cabaret in its original form, taking its roots from Weimar Berlin where artists sang about political and social issues, where clever lyrics, pungent undertones and serious themes are veiled in comic frivolity and song. A group of eclectic individuals who have stormed the Edinburgh Fringe and other international festivals are now writing cabaret songs with enough edge and wit to rival the current King of Satire, Tim Minchin.
My latest quest for a satirical fix took me to the Lost Theatre in Wandsworth to see the revival of the 2010 Edinburgh hit Me! Me! Me!.
Scroll to the bottom to see videos from the performers
The Lost Theatre is great space, boasting a 180-seater studio theatre and a rehearsal studio showcasing some excellent talent, nurturing playwrights and promoting new talent with workshops and competitions. This was my first visit and I was thrilled to see such a thriving scene, supported by volunteers who want to protect fringe theatres in an era of cuts.
Me! Me! Me! was part of the Yule Laugh season, featuring different comic and cabaret turns and running over Christmas until 18 January. On this night Desmond O’Connor (pictured top), Sarah-Louise Young and Mr B (pictured left) bombarded us with an hour of outrageous songs in their very different styles.
Mr B, aka the Gentleman Rhymer, delivers 1930s clipped upper-class dandy rap to banjo accompaniment or hip-hop backing tracks; he had us all standing for a rousing sing-along chorus of ‘There’s not enough kissing in porn’.
The talented singer and performer Sarah-Louise Young, who has recently finished a two-year tour with Fascinating Aida, delighted us with her spot-on rendition of ‘One Night Stand’. This girl can sing: her Broadway-quality delivery, her songs (fabulously shocking) and her many guises, particularly Cabaret Whore, won her five stars at Edinburgh.
My favourite song of the evening was ‘Who’s the Daddy’, written and performed by the multi-talented Desmond O’Connor: a perplexed post-war baby-boom boy asks his confused mother who his father was. Since Ma shagged half of London during the Blitz, her litany of lovers delivered in an East End ‘times was ‘ard’ accent had me laughing so hard I was practically hyperventilating. It features lines such as ‘Private Richard Little wasn't very aptly named/ with a weapon/ you could step on/ if it wasn't cocked and aimed.’
What a clever chap this man is and what a wonderful way to spend £10 and an hour on a Saturday evening before dinner. If you can’t bear the prospect of crossing the river, any of these chaps would be superb party entertainment, so why not give them a google? Just make sure the sound is turned down on your laptop.
The Yule Laugh season runs until 18 January at the Lost Theatre, Wandsworth
Sarah-Louise Young: 'One Night Stand'
Desmond O'Connor: 'Cheap Shite White Wine'
Mr B, the Gentleman Rhymer: 'Straight Outta Surrey'