As people ponder eating their pets due to a cost of living crisis, and war crimes bleed from the airwaves, it was a cheering prospect to spend the night with Bourgeois & Maurice and their new show, ‘Pleasure Seekers’.
The habitually dark and subversive cabaret assassins burst onto the stage with unhinged glee and in their opening song, promised to serve unbridled hedonism, positivity and joy to a world drowning in sadness. They didn’t disappoint, with lyrics that pledged taking ‘sixteen pills’ at a rave in Berlin and adopting hedonism as a ruling strategy.
The Friday night, Soho crowd lapped up this ecstatic decree and clapped along with bawdy delight, but we were lulled into a party vibe that was about to curdle and veer into darker pastures. Essentially, the show is an exploration of their failure to deliver on a mission of merriment. ‘You’re not being buried alive,’ says Maurice, in her attempt to be upbeat, ‘You’re being planted’.
Via a bouquet of thorny, but brilliant tunes and philosophical, witty discourse, they explore angst over capitalism, Greta Thunberg, online vanity, monogamy and a visceral hatred of babies. Not only are the songs sharp as a hot knife, they boast a virtuosity akin to peak Elton John with a side salad of the Scissor Sisters.
When Bourgeois flings off the weary prison of his veganism and launches into a gutsy lust for meat, he sings, ‘Take an Oxo cube and rim my martini’. One can only marvel at the relentless precision of their comedy. It’s a machine gun of quips, honed to the bone and delivered with cut-glass clarity. Seriously, every school in the country would benefit from a Bourgeois and Maurice Masterclass in Diction, though they would have to tone down the content.
The costume design by Julian Smith is both dazzling to behold and cunning in concept. While giving a nod to the cabaret conventions of glitter and swish, Smith’s looks are high fashion that Gaga would gag for. As the show progresses, the pair peel off seemingly endless layers, revealing a crop of rock star looks and ever skimpier fashions.
This isn’t a show for suburban pearl-clutchers, and therein lies its power and raison d’être. ‘Pleasure Seekers’ revels in nihilism, flirts with savagery and high-kicks into the shadows. That it’s executed with such skill and intellect, makes it the perfect cabaret for a humanity that deserves every slap they deliver.
Playing until 30th April, https://sohotheatre.com/shows/bourgeois-maurice-pleasure-seekers/
Reviewer: Stewart Who?
Reviewed: 8th April 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★