Meow Meow in Concert
Nica Burns in association with the Soho Theatre
With a name like Meow Meow, you'd expect catty. Meow Meow is a cabaret singer who is more unkempt feline than well licked tabby. And much like those furry creatures, she's constantly demanding, and getting, attention: dragging, literally, people on stage whether it's to hold up her lyrics; lift her up into the air; act as armrest or 'just' dance the cancan.
Cabaret is a bit of dirty word, a prohibition-era throwback that can forebode cobweb covered pianos and screeching. Meow Meow is essentially a parody of this gone into overdrive: with her tacky clothes, panties showing and edged anti-professionalism. Here's a cabaret act that's incredibly good at seeming not to care and letting the audience in on the joke. And there's something infectious about Meow Meow's ferocious mix of brittle self-love and performance/audience-forced-participation.
The problem is that by the end of the night the joke has worn thin and it's clear that Meow Meow's bag of tricks isn't the biggest: four times - count 'em - she has audience members dress/undress her. It's done with an undeniable amount of tongue-in-check and heckling charm but when coupled with some fairly lacklustre songs, the act seems more distraction, a stringing along of clever tricks, that anything else. Sometimes, it would be good to just listen to the music without some gag or pun getting in the way. And the one number that could have unified the night, the ending song that could have made all of the jokes seem just jokes rather than cover, was merely good, not hauntingly powerful as it needed to be.
Unpredictable and exciting, Meow Meow breaks her audience both in and down and they love it. It's just a shame there isn't the variety in her interactions or the power in her songs to complete the act.
"Meow Meow in Concert" runs at the Apollo Theatre on the 24th, 25th and 26th of June
Reviewer: Tobias Chapple