Brighton Fringe 2014
Bourgeois and Maurice are a now well established neo-cabaret double act who deliver topical satire via song, banter and droll character comedy.
Bourgeois and Maurice, are under no illusions that what they deliver is not going to be life changing, in fact they joke about it. The songs aren’t particularly clever or original, but it is subject matter that we, as a liberal left leaning audience, can all agree on. It is this, their acerbic delivery and the excellent and ever evolving costume designs by uber talented London designer Julian J Smith that keeps fans hungry for more. The luminous haute couture and the glam camp gorgeousness of their hair and makeup, provide a kind of visual displacement activity for music that is unapologetically simple, tinny and a bit – well – shit.
But the audience don’t seem to mind this at all. The crowd around me are converts; a seasoned B & M audience who know what they were signing up for and enjoy all its gaudiness.
Their content scrapes acidly away at various aspects of modern life: the homogenisation of small town culture, the narcissism of social media, attitudes to global warming, policies that disenfranchise the vulnerable and other shortcomings of the Cameron Government and the slow death of Europe. It is all delivered with dripping, glamorous insouciance. Occasionally there is a casual twist in the tail that adds – or hints at – depth, but mostly it delights in the trashy superficiality of its style.
Georgeois Bourgeois and Maurice Maurice are the alter egos of art school buddies Liv Morris and George Heyworth. They play a dysfunctional brother and sister who finish each other’s sentences. Extroverted social butterfly Bourgeois counterpoints his sister’s ultra cool, sullen nonchalance. The term ‘bitchy resting face‘ springs to mind. It is funny schtick.
Some of my favourite parts were the between song banter.
‘In honour of one of the world’s biggest gays, I’ve decided to wear my Vladimir Putin unitard for you tonight’ (It was a beauty).
‘To research this show we watched a film. I cant remember what it was called, but it had Nazis in it and a girl called Eliza with a weird hair cut.’
Their link material is brilliant. As joylessly spurious as it is unfeasibly gymnastic.
‘Like every brother and sister, we have the usual chats about sexual fantasies’. Cues in a song about how erotic Maurice finds tax.
‘The last time we played in Brighton, it was going to be our last because of the 2012 apocalypse’, cues a song where in a nice day at the beach turns into a global warming apocalypse.
‘We haven’t made a song about Brighton, Maurice, shall we improvise one?’
‘Oh yes, that’s very on trend’ she responds poker faced.
They then ‘improvise’ a song about Eastbourne based on audience suggestions. ‘Has it got a street? Has it got shops? Thought so’ Then describe what could be any other small town high street, in multinational saturated Britain, or indeed the western world.
‘Your Boyfriend is a Twat’ was a crowd favourite, as was the encore number about it being acceptable to be gay in Cameron’s England, but if you are disabled, forget about it.
Yet for all this, I find myself wondering about the Weimar Republic references and the great anarchic ideal of that little underground movement that raged behind closed doors against the emerging Nazi horror until it was, eventually, like all other voices of dissent, crushed. It must have been pretty radical and deeply provocative at the time – and I wonder how we go about creating real voices of dissent these days in an era of encroaching fascism dressed up as democracy. I think about that movie with the girl called Eliza with the weird hair and the convention breaking, edgy brilliance of that form and content and feel like I must be missing something.
Sugartits is caustic and cynical and great to look at and whilst its visual and comedic ideas are fun to recapture in writing, I found myself less engaged in the real time experience of it somehow. Like a note it hits deep within clatters a little thinly for me. I don’t doubt that these niggling dissatisfactions are just my personal taste, as people around me loved it and many gave them a standing ovation. But I could already feel in the midst of it, that it would peel off me afterwards like a poorly applied false eyelash – and I found that I wished it didn’t. Still, perhaps that was the point.