Cabaret Whore presents . . . La Poule Plombée (4 stars)

French chanteuse with a bit of emotional baggage

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Cabaret Whore presents . . . La Poule Plombée

credit: Steve Ullathorne

La Poule Plombee is Sarah Louise-Young's alternative version of Edith Piaf: sharing her Gallic charm and addiction to tragedy, La Poule, however, is an emotionally manipulative failure, singing her way through self-pity and self-justification. Supported by Michael Roulston, revealing a talent for subtle performance as her long-suffering musician, Young pulls off a parody that both captures the drama of the French chanson and mocks its melodrama.

La Poule is only one of Cabaret Whore's characters, but giving her a full hour allows a backstory to emerge. Sometimes ridiculous, sometimes tragic, La Poule is fully realised. Young's wry humour matches her superb vocal range: she gently pokes fun at the diva's relentless mythologising without sinking into mockery.

Roulston is a perfect foil: his English restraint highlights her continental sensuality, hinting at thwarted passion beneath a more immediate need to escape her tyranny. Cabaret can often sacrifice depth for a quick joke, but La Poule is able to convince of her biography, even when it involves a crash-course in butchery as a metaphor for love. Wry, elegantly structured and involving just enough audience participation to be funny without relying on it, La Poule steps from the shadow of Piaf to become a hilariously moving tribute to the troubadours of the 20th century.

The Voodoo Rooms, run ended.

Cabaret Whore Presents… La Poule Plombée

  • 4 stars

Sarah-Louise Young & Michael Roulston Award-winning character comedy and original songs from the team behind Cabaret Whore, Julie Madly Deeply and Songs for Cynics. Back by her own popular demand, knife-wielding, tortured French chanteuse, La Poule Plombée, has terrified and charmed audiences around the world…

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