Songs for Cynics**** (St James Theatre Studio, 26 October 2013)

Posted: October 27, 2013 in Theatre

This review was originally written for The Public Reviewst:

So the clocks are going back, the gloom of Winter is descending, can there be a more appropriate time for wallowing in a little cynicism? Forget all those songs about love and affection, here is a collection to bomb any rom-com and massacre St Valentine’s Day. The St James Studio is a perfect cabaret venue with a bar in the corner inviting us to drain our half empty bottles and get into the swing of the evening. Already a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this show is written and performed by Michael Roulston and Sarah-Louise Young, he seated at a grand piano, she taking the lead on most of the songs. They have collaborated as songwriters for seven years, their close rapport being evident in all the numbers and in the amiable banter between them. The pair’s other current show is Julie, Madly, Deeply which is inspired by Julie Andrews, so here they have the perfect antidote to too many spoonfuls of sugar. The anti-romantic mood is established with Let’s Not Fall in Love and, when love threatens to enter the air, Roulston repels it by warning I Play Around. Just as moonlight and roses might inspire some songwriters, in this show the inspiration is the morning after as Young chants Lovers at Breakfast. She moves from here to maternity, delivering the first half showstopper Please Don’t Hand Me Your Baby, the chorus of which leads with the catch line “your baby is ugly”, likely to be repeated by the entire audience for days afterwards. After the interval, Young assumes the guise of her alter ego La Poule Plombee (frumpy pigeon), a suicidal French torch singer. Her set includes a Piaf style rendition of My Little Black Dress and she leads an audience singalong with Malcontent. Returning as herself, Young offers the ultimate put down to any male suitor, singing I Fancy Your Father, the second half showstopper. All the lyrics are bristling with caustic wit, giving us almost a laugh a line, and they are delivered by two seasoned cabaret performers whose presentation and timing are perfection. This was a one-off reprise of the Edinburgh show, but it must surely re-appear. In the meantime, the cd is already available.

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