Michael Roulston and Sarah-Louise Young perform their show The Best Bits of Roulston and Young at the Crazy Coqs, London until 30 January.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★
This extremely talented couple makes a triumphant return to the Crazy Coqs to celebrate their ten-year partnership of songwriting together. It’s an evening which includes both old and new original songs – a few serious ones woven amid a welter of wicked and outrageous numbers.
Roulston and Young been described as “a sort of 21st Century Flanders & Swann” but, as entertaining as those venerable gentlemen were, they never reached the heights (or should it depths) of raunchiness achieved by this pair.
The format of their act has them offering, in turn, their partner’s qualities and listing their “best bits”. Their banter allows for plenty of mock abuse with each “best bit” leading into appropriate songs – which sadly are never named.
Many compositions reflect personal issues. Perfect Match came about after repeated questioning from both sets of parents as to why they are not married to each other. Further intrusive questioning as to why she had not had any children so infuriated Young that she wrote ‘Please Don’t Hand Me Your Baby’. This number is typical of the way the pair mislead the audience. The wistfulness of the opening lyric suggests that the song is a lament for the unfulfilled maternal instinct. Oh no! It morphs hilariously into a wicked comic song.
Sung straight is the ballad ‘Over You’ which has clever variations of the word ‘over’. Looking back on her childhood days as a tomboy Young is most poignant as she sings of a child always on the edge of the crowd, looking on and believing that she is not like other girls.
Equally moving is ‘The Letter’ which is a list song of things to do as an abandoned wife procrastinates before posting off divorce papers.
But it is the comedy numbers that bring the house down. Talk of dating older men – silver foxes – leads to Young’s confession to a friend that she is dating his father, while the perils of heavy drinking, one-night stands and the morning after, are fully expounded in the riotous ‘The Walk of Shame’. ‘Get Out of My Face’ brings a touch of comic country and western. ‘Much Much Older’ is Young’s fantasy following an encounter on a train with a boy half her age.
Although it’s Young’s vocals that take centrestage, Roulston’s contribution must not be overlooked. Apart from his hand in writing the material, he provides excellent piano accompaniment as well as giving as good as he gets in response to Young’s verbal abuse. His solo ‘I Play Around’ is a delightfully funny song full of double entendres.
The excellent witty writing, the easy delivery of the patter and Young’s ability to switch vocals styles effortlessly all go to make a most entertaining evening of classic cabaret.