Perverts In Soho? Whatever Next?

EastEnd Cabaret ★★★★☆

Franco Milazzo
By Franco Milazzo Last edited 33 months ago
Perverts In Soho? Whatever Next? EastEnd Cabaret 4

Isn’t it about time we celebrated a real London success story? Sure, EastEnd Cabaret’s two performers are Australian but the rise and rise of their act owes much to the capital.

We first saw them about five years ago in a converted subterranean toilet off the Strand called Cellardoor. That place is still going strong and so are two of Bethnal Green’s most deviant daughters. From their underground residency, they have gone on to win awards and entertain thousands around the world and all over the capital, playing in venues here as diverse as small pubs and the largest cabaret stage in town, London Wonderground.

Their latest show, Perverts at the Soho Theatre, showcases the pair’s eponymous debut album. Containing a mixture of songs old, new and more than a touch blue, the longplayer was crowdfunded earlier this year and can be heard online.

The live experience adds much that simply cannot be conveyed through the music alone. The beauty of cabaret as a genre is the way it places a sizeable stiletto through the fourth wall and brings the audience into the show. Persuading two male volunteers to crouch side-by-side on all-fours and carry her aloft on their shoulders to the stage is only the beginning of Bernadette Byrne’s display of her charismatic charm. The flirtatious vamp’s associate Victor/Victoria is, as her name suggests, a half-man/half-woman affair who generates much of Perverts’ comedy through her musicianship and her character’s unrequited passion for Byrne.

In case the show title didn’t give enough of a hint, those easily offended should steer clear of these two. One couple near the front are serenaded with Accidental Anal and many a gentleman is fondled, sat on or otherwise sexually targeted as is Byrne’s whim. When not singing, the lewd libretto allows Byrne and her besotted companion to bring their debauched characters to life. These two know how to work an audience with vigour and skill; hand-clapping and foot-stomping participation are par for the course here.

The grand finale of DangerWank is the epitome of the show — a filthy and rollicking number that bursts through the boundaries of good taste with nary a look over its shoulders. This collection of sex songs by and about women are a riot regardless of one’s gender. In this respect, they have rivals on the musical comedy scene in Four Femmes On The Thames and The Ruby Darlings; neither, though, yet have EastEnd Cabaret’s showmanship or fanbase. With Perverts, these girls from Down Under have ascended to the highest echelons of one of the world’s busiest cabaret scenes.

EastEnd Cabaret continue at Soho Theatre, Dean Street W1, until 15 August. Tickets £15/£12.50. Londonist attended on a complimentary press ticket.

Last Updated 09 August 2015