Assembly @ George Street
6-16th August, 16.50
Shoo Shoo Baby, the very glamorous misses Anna Braithwaite and Tanya Holt, accompanied by their faithful pianist and Musical Director, Michael Roulston (aka Fingers) immerse you in an evening’s education in Cabaret galore.
Amidst amusing repartee they mellifluously race across cabaret’s history from its emergence in the Parisian Belle Époque (with the tuneful call “Galerie Lafayette, death to the bourgeoisie swine, hope they choke on their cigarettes!”) through to their own personal incarceration- a macabre four-minute opera parody ‘Britten’s Got Talent’. The Weimar revue, the Cotton Club and the political rantings of the Beat Poets all further punctuate Shoo Shoo Baby’s Cabaret timeline.
This trio, for the most part, successfully create an atmosphere of opulence and vamp. The ingenious use of the piano’s secret compartment to reveal images worked well, allowing them to pull out a night scene of Paris or even a festering corpse when appropriate. Indeed their depiction of the deliciously dark ‘The Tragic Marriage of Dr Snowdrop’ is a treat to watch. On the flip side Alphonse Allais’ ‘Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man’ (consisting of nine bars of silence peppered with their not very interesting or witty thoughts) is definitely not, and begins the steady slide from excellence into mediocrity.
Overall they demonstrated their vocal diversity with style and confidence switching easily between different accents and eras. And to their credit, as someone with little knowledge of the Cabaret, this programme proved engaging and informative. A tweak and a nudge and this show would have been exceptional.