Cabaret & variety review: Roulston & Young: Songs For Lovers (And Other Idiots)

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Cabaret double act Roulston and Young establish a good comedic rapport.

Star rating: ****

Venue: Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters (Venue 272)

Michael Roulston and Sarah-Louise Young have been writing songs together for a decade but their central involvement in UK cabaret goes back even further than that. There’s still a freshness to this showcase for the pair’s ongoing collaboration, however, since it offers not only a delightful set of witty and accomplished songs but also a chance to see them operate in their relatively new mode as a double act. For years, Roulston was often seen on stage but rarely heard while Young performed only in character; indeed, her best known creation, La Poule Plombée, has her own show at the Fringe this year, also with Roulston on the keys. But in Songs for Lovers (and Other Idiots) the duo perform as themselves – or at least versions of themselves.

The songs are as stylishly turned and tight as you’d expect, both musically and lyrically, and they survey a range of relationships with a wry, gently jaded eye in styles that vary from jaunty to elegiac, cha cha to country. There are numbers about lovers old and new (not to mention young and old), infatuations and irritations, bittersweet partings and walks of shame, even an unmentionable issue around new parenthood.

And, of course, there’s Roulston and Young’s relationship with each other. We hear about the pleasures and the limits of their own compatibility and, in one standout song, Roulston confesses his melodic infidelities with the revelation that – gasp! – he has been accompanying other singers on the side. It’s a great chance to show off their comedic rapport: he’s hangdog and long-suffering with a saucy side, she’s savvy and self-centred but sweet beneath it all. If the general tone of the songs is sardonic, the show is laced with an endearing sense of down-to-earth fun to suit lovers and idiots on stage and off.

Until 28 August. Today 3:15pm.

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