Meow Meow ‘s Apocalypse Meow: A Crisis is Born @ The Purcell Room (Southbank Centre)

Meow Meow ‘s Apocalypse Meow:  A Crisis is Born – and much of its audience – was as camp as a mass of pink tulle. The audience, bubbling with gentle, knowing anticipation, greeted each other with kisses and “dahlings” all over the theatre.

Meow Meow

I hadn’t heard of Meow Meow; the last time I felt so out of the loop was when I was asking my mother the name of that bloke on the front of The Doors album. Though Meow-Meow complained pettishly at being placed in the “sort of wooden sweatbox” that is the Purcell Room, I thought it worked for her. It’s one of my favourite theatres and it worked for this show; any bigger and the intimacy would have been lost, any smaller and she wouldn’t have been able to fit in her enthusiastic fans!

Her character was simple, a seasoned queen who has been in the business a little while longer than she cares to admit, still lured by the seductive flame of fame. Though raddled with the exhaustion of a cocktail of chemicals and showbiz, her impeccable, versatile tones were enthralling. OK, a familiar caricature at first glance, but Meow Meow gave it something more.

A sassy cynic, Meow Meow enters through the audience, stroppy at the organisers’ choice of venue but then lit up by the prospect of her assisting stars: Alan Cumming and Rufus Wainwright, friends of hers that would “never let her down”, a sentiment you know already will fall to pieces.

As expected, answer phone messages tell us Rufus missed his flight and Alan is busy picking up awards. The disappointment of the Business and Christmas are interwoven and she leads us to share the sentimentality and sadness of them both. They promise satisfaction, are manipulated by the superficial and commercial and, ultimately, fall short of fulfilment.

The bittersweet show will appeal to Scrooges and romantics alike. Meow Meow is unlike other cabaret acts where the campness can eclipse the fun and a sea of mucky jokes can wash away any chance of original comedy. There was plenty of all that, of course, but the pitch was perfect.

The band weren’t bad either. The kind of pianist and drummer who also played “everything else” popped pills with their versatile songstress. Charming accomplices in Meow’s hedonistic exploits, they proved just as happy to tempt their leading lady off the floor with the bait of a bottle of red as to play alongside her. Again, their actions, musical and otherwise, were timed to perfection.

All Meow Meow’s cast were ace. The other members, two little girls and a thinner and taller Meow Meow double, pull the mood to precisely where Meow Meow wants it. Cute to sickly, pained to fiery, Meow knows where she’s going and gets there.

Review written by Harry Davies.

Meow Meow ‘s Apocalypse Meow:  A Crisis is Born is currently showing at the Purcell Room (Southbank Centre) until Monday 29th December. For more information on the production, visit here…

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