The Full Bronte! Literary Cabaret

“Faster than pen can set it down, came panic, rushing, crushing—a blind, selfish, cruel chaos.” So wrote Charlotte Brontë about the fire that engulfs a theatre in her novel, Villette. If it was this particular bit of Brontë upon which cabaret corps Scary Little Girls drew their theatrical inspiration, I can honestly state that they captured every element successfully.

For a show ostensibly inspired by some of the most important imaginative minds in the literary canon, this cabaret displayed a mind-rottingly low level of originality and engagement with its supposed source material. Every element of content was either plagiarised, irrelevant or belaboured to the point of nightmare.

The show was opened with a rendition of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. The show was then interspersed by another rendition of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, another rendition of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights and a final rendition of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. Whilst it may be supposed that such total lack of imagination may be played for laughs, such was not the case and the laboriousness of listening five times over was compounded by consistently off-key vocals. Furthermore, despite leaning upon this appropriate yet unimaginative choice with corpse-like heaviness, the show managed to screw up the lyrics within the first five words.

When variation was introduced into the musical repertoire, it was enragingly irrelevant and symptomatic of the show’s wider disregard for its alleged inspiration. The fact that the Brontës are from Yorkshire and that Pulp and the Human League are also from Yorkshire does not qualify as pertinent link. Similarly, the fact that one of our cabaret characters claims Cornish identity does not excuse the fact that there are genuinely more jokes in the show about Cornwall (reaching such dizzying heights of sophistication as to call a mouth a ‘pasty-hole’) than about the Brontës. Considering the fact that upon my bookshelf rests a book in which Juliet Barker manages to conjure up 1003 pages upon the lives of these literary sisters, it is asking a miniscule amount of any hour-long show to offer more accurate content and an insight with more penetration than the fact that the Brontë’s mother was – surprise, surprise – from Cornwall!

Our performers compound their problem of irrelevancy with some exceedingly transparent plagiarism. In their billing, Scary Little Girls compare themselves (immensely flatteringly) to comedy greats French & Saunders: Is it not at least astoundingly coincidental, then, that our host Branny – an obese, hat-wearing West Country woman with SEN – is remarkably similar to the Pairtree Farm residents – two hat-wearing, West Country women – from French & Saunders’ own show; and almost identical to French’s character, Rosie – an obese SEN West Country woman – from Saunders’ Jam & Jerusalem. Despite practically making a comic carbon copy of three established comedy characters, the Full Brontë still managed to communicate them joylessly; Branny was played without any sense of heart or warmth.

In those incredibly scarce moments where jokes did present themselves, they were universally killed off by terrible timing or excruciating execution. Moments such as those where Branny crawled three feet around the side of the piano to chuck some paper into the face of our musician; or compere Monika de Plume dashed in screaming ‘No no no no no no no’ to cover up a weak cover of Black Lace’s ‘We’re Having a Gang Bang’; are about as accomplished as those jokes seen in a sixth form pantomime.

Compere de Plume repeatedly apologised to our audience for the conduct of her co-stars and ironically this could not have been a more apt act. The Full Brontë is dishonest in its disregard for the sisters themselves and drearily unfunny in itself. Perhaps it is our turn to draw inspiration from Charlotte Brontë’s imagining of the burned-out theatre: As ‘extinct and forgotten’ with the ‘crowd all vanished and gone.’

Reviews by Jack Powell

Assembly Roxy

Lords of Strut: Chaos

Underbelly, Cowgate

John Robertson: The Dark Room

Pleasance Courtyard

Knightmare Live - Level 2

The Assembly Rooms


Pleasance Courtyard

Thünderbards: Seconds


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now


The Blurb

Scary Little Girls / PBH's Free Fringe - Join Monika and Nom de Plume for comedy and song. A romp in homage to the Brontes. French and Saunders meet Hinge and Bracket.

Most Popular See More

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets