Cabaret Whore Presents: La Poule Plombée

Sarah-Louise Young and Michael Roulston remain on top form with their new laugh-out-loud spin-off Cabaret Whore, in which Young’s comic character La Poule Plombée is finally given her own solo cabaret show. The terrifying contract: “I give you my voice and you give me your souls.”

The characters are so well-developed that they practically spring from the stage

Agonised “artiste” La Poule Plombée, always on the brink of tears at the thought of her tragic lot in life and at her recollected baggage from childhood, opens her dark soul to her audience through story and song, while indifferently terrorising her terribly-English and faithful accompanist, the only remaining member of a once-numerous band.

The characters are so well-developed that they practically spring from the stage; the evident years of honing in their work facilitated, rather than prevented, ready improvisation and lightness of touch. The spotlight is of course demanded byLa Poule in her Piaf-esque little black dress. This was quite deservedly so, as Young’s timing, accent-play, and gestures are comic gold – but Roulston on piano provides a great foil and the duo are mesmerising from start to finish.

The nine co-written songs are well-crafted vehicles for Young’s expressive and impressive voice, with her wide vocal range and ability to contrast light, shade and deft illustrative touches. Lyrics for me, were sharpest and funniest in the opening My Voice and hilariously dark and offal-tastic Perfect Papa. Other stand-out numbers included the Gigi-inspired That Wonderful Night and the brilliant and flesh-tingling Thin Skin, filled with pathos.

The programme stays firmly within the cabaret genre, but there are many echoes of a wider influence: Tango, Piaf herself (although don’t tell La Poule unless you want your fingers sliced off….), Lerner and Loewe, to name but a few. Yet, beware: there’s some good-natured audience participation but you’ll hardly notice you’re joining in by the end.

Special mention again must be afforded to Roulston’s fantastic accompaniment, effortlessly making a keyboard sound like a concert grand. I particularly enjoyed his sensitivity and quiet flourishes in the later three-time numbers.

An effortlessly slick send-up of chanson, Cabaret Whore presents La Poule Plombée is a highlight of the Fringe, a masterclass in character comedy and yet another success for the partnership of Young and Roulston.

Reviews by Tom Edward

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Cabaret Whore Presents: La Poule Plombée

★★★★★
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Performances

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The Blurb

The much anticipated solo show from knife-wielding tortured French chanteuse, La Poule Plombée. Featuring brand new comic and bittersweet songs from Sarah-Louise Young and Michael Roulston, creators of 'Cabaret Whore', 'Julie Madly Deeply' and 'Songs For Cynics'. "Outstanding Cabaret" ***** (Time Out)

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