Cabaret: it’s not all about the tassels, the fire-breathing, the aerialism or the filthy humour, you know. The Ismena Collective are a soulful trio who wallow in relatively mellow musical mellifluence. We caught up with them at a recent show in the West End’s Koha.

One of the cornerstones of cabaret often forgotten or ignored by the larger troupes and more extreme performers is the inherent intimacy of the artform. The Collective excel in this aspect with intimacy demonstrated on a number of levels. Their emotive songs can reach down into your heart to bring you close once more to loves and lives perhaps thought left behind while the dimness of the venue and the full house abbreviates the distance between the performers and the audience.

Mayda Narvey, Katharine Woolley and Sara Cluderay

The Ismena Collective perform Kurt Weill and other cabaret classics at the Koha Cafe

The trio are an impressive bunch, each bringing their own considerable talents to the fore. Sara Cluderay’s vocals are by turns sensuous on Kurt Weill’s The Saga Of Jenny and impertinently hilarious as she recounts terrible auditions. Cellist Mayda Narvey comes to London from Canada via New York and her virtuoso bowmanship underpins the Collective’s sound, giving it direction and verve. Her solos and the instrumentals in which she joins with the third Collective member, pianist Katharine Woolley, are a show highlight.

While eschewing the cutting wit of another female trio, Fascinating Aida, these three performers are not just experienced and highly accomplished but, and this is just a guess, absolutely in love with what they do. Through smiles, laughs and twinkling eyes, they communicate real passion to an appreciative crowd who have to do nothing but open up their ears, sit back and be blown away. If you have a date coming up or you just need to re-connect with someone special, the Ismena Collective come highly recommended. Their next show is on 1 July with special Constantine.

The Ismena Collective. Cafe Koha, London WC2N 4AJ. 1 July, 21:30. £5 (£4 advance).

Photo credits: Gui O’Connor, exclusively for This Is Cabaret