EastEnd Cabaret: Sexual Tension
Uppended gender norms and licked foreheads abound in exhilarating Edinburgh Fringe show
This article is from 2014.
There was a time when one could safely assume that by avoiding the front row, one wouldn’t be dragged into dreaded audience participation bits. As the man in the centre of aisle six who got his forehead licked learned, those days are gone. Turning everyday situations into song-and-dance numbers and terrorizing the crowd with her unstoppable libido, Bernadette Byrne, along with her half man / half woman sidekick Victor Victoria, spends Sexual Tension exploring the various aspects of modern life that hold erotic potential (spoiler: there are many).
While Victy mans / womans the keyboard and accordion, Bernie commands the entire room as one big stage, flipping the gaze back so that the audience ends up shrinking from her attention. Likewise, the pair upend gender norms, through their swearing, masturbation chat, and the bold acknowledgment that women have nipples. The London-based duo put contemporary cabaret into its best gear, celebrating femininity by simultaneously upholding and redefining what that means.
The interplay between the two halves of EastEnd Cabaret is ultimately what makes the show so good, with the best songs in the line-up being Victor Victoria’s psychopathic unrequited love songs / rants for Bernadette. For nothing says ‘sexual tension’ in the 21st century like the friend zone, right?
Underbelly, Bristo Square, 0844 545 8252, until 25 Aug (not 11), 8pm, £10.50–£11.50 (£9.50–£10.50).