A masterclass in the art of post-modern cabaret from the Australian-born chanteuse.
The self-styled post-post-modern diva Meow Meow’s unique brand of “kamikaze cabaret” and performance art exotica returns to the Southbank, following last year’s concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.
The divine Miss Meow, who starred recently in the West End production of Legrand’s Umbrellas of Cherbourg, arrives back on the London scene via La Soiréein New York City, guest spots with punk diva Amanda Palmer in Meow’s native Australia and the U.S. West Coast premiere of avant-garde composer Andriessen’s De Materie.
The sold out Wonderground Spiegeltent is packed with many being dedicated aficionados as well as a few Meow Meow virgins, myself included. Our collective cherry is well and truly popped as Meow Meow steps onto the stage, sparkling glitter and rhinestones covering every surface of her person from lips to panties, perma-cigarette in hand throughout.
She opens with a Spanish flamenco-esque number, Un Año d’amor, stopping her piano/drummer duo of musicians abruptly to chastise the audience for not throwing flowers, before doling out roses to the front row, marching offstage and starting the whole show all over again, this time with enthusiastic bouquet-flinging aplenty.
Meow Meow’s show is a masterclass in the art of post-modern cabaret; sublime and vibrant singing interspersed with screams and diva strops, engaging with the audience from the start with her combination of hilarious self-deprecating one-liners and sensitive emotional moments.
The crowd are simultaneously mesmerised and hysterical with laughter, whether being invited onto the stage to provide an impromptu chorus line of Barbie dolls, helping out with costume changes and special effects or being screamed at to stop taking illicit mobile phone photos. Meow’s shout of “Put it away and remember the evening in your head!” receives a round of applause.
Musically, the show includes a wide variety of styles and contrasting moods from Kurt Weill to Radiohead, that showcase this diva’s versatile and expressive voice, with Meow translating from German and French as she sings.
Particular highlights are a tri-lingual version of Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and a truly wonderful rendition of Erwin Schulhoff’s Sonata Erotica for Female Voice (1919). This latter piece is a beautifully executed and very comic interpretation of the avant-garde movement, made all the more amusing by this artist who understands the genre itself very well.
Infamous for her crowd-surfing antics, Meow Meow’s finale does not disappoint, but she ends the show with a tender performance of the Patty Griffin song Be Careful, creating a poignant torch song moment.
This truly is what cabaret should be – confirmed fans and Meow Meow virgins alike should fight to get a ticket for this cabaret, theatre and comedy experience.
Feline Intimate. Performed by Meow Meow. The Spiegeltent, London Wonderground, London SE1. Until 7 June. londonwonderground.co.uk.
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