Pros: The band’s pithy, witty and humorous songs.
Cons: It’s not for the faint or tender hearted – which may include yours truly.
‘Dark humour for dark times’ might sum up The Tiger Lillies’ Brechtian cabaret performance Love for Sale, which is currently playing at the Soho Theatre. Oliver Award-winning musicians Martyn Jacques and Adrian Stout lure us into a world of prostitution, terror, suicide, alcoholism and murder with their wickedly good adaptations of Cole Porter’s music, and some of their own songs sprinkled in between.
The performance is cast under a deceptively beautiful and atmospheric set of bare orange light-bulb stars and the moon, in which a projection of its craters changes seamlessly into various scenes including swirling Belle Epoch can-can dancers, smoking chimney-stacks and – oddly – a goldfish in a bowl. Similarly, The Tiger Lillies’ songs shift from melancholy to the dark and downright macabre. Daddy issues, vicious pimps, an addiction to gin and other gruelling stories are explored in a musical carousel of madness.
Martyn Jacques – in full ghoulish circus clown make up – has a magnificent falsetto voice. The band also deploy an army of strange and unusual instruments, which include a homemade ukulele, the ethereal Theremin, and a musical saw, to great effect. The lyrics throughout the performance are not for the faint-hearted, but the duo’s second-to-last song on Friday, Gas Bill, requested by an audience member, made surely even the most robust of us feel uncomfortable. (I say no more than that it’s a Holocaust reference.) For me, it hit too close to home given the horrific occurrences of the day before, and it felt badly timed.
I also felt that the performance would have been stronger if it had taken place in a non-theatre setting: while Soho (despite the developers!) is the place for such a show, Soho Theatre’s auditorium felt a little too formal for this sort of grimy entertainment. That said, The Tiger Lillies and their pithy, witty, humorous songs make for a great night out. This entertaining and talented team which will leave you craving for more.
Written and Performed By: Martyn Jacques and Adrian Stout
Box Office: 020 7478 0100
Booking Link: http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/the-tiger-lillies-love-for-sale/
Booking Until: 30 July 2016