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Me! Me! Me!

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

This jaunty lunchtime cabaret aperitif showcases the talents of Upper-Class Rapper Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer, sultry chanteuse Sarah Louise Young and dandy ukulele strummer Des O’Connor, who is not, it will come as little surprise to learn, the septuagenarian TV host. You would have thought Equity might have something to say about the name.

But if you were looking for an older entertainer with whom to compare O’Connor, Nicholas Parsons spring more readily to mind, with his, obsequious cod-sincerity and penchant for unnecessarily ornate language, camply commenting, for example, that he’s struck by the ‘pulchritude’ of the crowd.

O’Connor is the weakest link of the trio, with his speciality of twee-sounding songs with fast-paced lyrics about the likes of Prozac drug fluoxetine or fake-tanned women caked in make-up, lips pumped up on collagen. Even on a show that – in style, at least – is proud to be relatively mainstream compared to some of the darker and more interesting places cabaret is being dragged, he appears quite the throwback.

Sarah Louise Young is sort of old-fashioned, too – though an attractive woman with a strong, rangey voice singing powerful songs is timeless. Her lyrics, though, can be very much of the 21st century, with a surprisingly elegant number in praise of her fuckbuddy. That the fact the language can be so open fruity renders the age-old trick of misdirected rhyme redundant (such as rhyming blunt with runt, rather than you what you might have expected) but it doesn’t stop both she and O’Connor using the device twice in the show

In another effective song SLY, who has her own famous namesake in the porn industry, sings coolly about British reserve, which is really just an excuse to let out some repressed rage about a fairly familiar list of gripes, but done with élan.

Star of the show, however, is upper-class internet sensation Mr B – who fuses street culture with the Queen’s English his educated background has instilled in him. ‘Chap-hop’ he calls it.

While he made his name online with his own versions existing rap hits, here we are treated to several of his own compositions, accompanied by a backbeat and his banjolele. It’s been a long time since anyone called a humourous song a ‘rag’, but it seems entirely appropriated in Mr B’s case, with his witty, catchy numbers about Tim Westwood and the appeal drug culture (‘They wanted me to go to rehab/I said "that sounds nice"’).

It would be lazy to describe him as George Formby on crack cocaine – but he’s got that style and he sings about freebasing, so for once it seems entirely appropriate.

Review date: 25 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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