Lady Rizo: Red, White And Indigo
  • This Is Cabaret Rating

The United States, like nostalgia, is not what it used to be and New York chanteuse Lady Rizo feels it as much as any of her fellow Americans.

In her latest show, Red, White And Indigo, she explores her sentiments for her home country albeit without naming the small-handed, Twitter-loving, wall-building elephant in the room. Whoever he may be.

Those who have already witnessed this elegant singer with a trucker’s tongue will know what to expect. There’s plenty of pointed banter, some saucy audience interaction and songs lifted by a voice to die for. This time around, there is a mix of original numbers from her upcoming album, old favourites like Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang and some stone-cold classics like the finale Leonard Cohen number (sadly, not this rather fitting tune). Frankly, she could sing the football results and still make them sound vibrant and sexy.

The usual mid-show costume change assisted by one of the evening’s punters is as fun and frustrating as ever; all of it happens behind a large screen so, as much as we drown in schadenfreude as the hapless victim is shamelessly interrogated about personal matters, it makes for a stunningly dull visual experience even if she does eventually re-appear resembling Greta Garbo masquerading as a member of the Night’s Watch.

The comedy aspects are generally well done with more than a pinch of self-awareness. Rizo has improved both her patter and her comic timing since she first came to the Soho Theatre as part of her prize for winning the inaugural TO&ST award in 2013 and she makes smart points between the more obvious wisecracks. “Back home,” she says, “I shoplift occasionally and I wouldn’t do that if I was black.”

Seeing the US through the eyes of someone who has lived on both coasts, travelled the world and recently become a mother is an insightful experience. Amid the jokes and songs, Rizo keeps the show rooted in reality; she is proud of the country she grew up in yet trepidatious about the one her son Tennyson will encounter. No-one knows where America is headed over the next four years but let’s hope it gives rise to shows as good as this one.

Lady Rizo’s Red, White And Indigo continues at Soho Theatre until 5 August.