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miss bouzy-rouge: a review

Photo by Pauline Lévêque Photography. Image via The Butterfly Club.

Photo by Pauline Lévêque Photography. Image via The Butterfly Club.

Sarah Goussé’s Miss Bouzy-Rouge is basically the show you’d get if you distilled cabaret. If you asked my philistine brain what cabaret actually is, I’d probably murmur something about Paris in the forties, glamorous costumes, strong voices, crude humour and alcohol. That is what I got. Sarah Goussé was never without a glass in-hand during a performance was francofile to the nth degree, extremely well dressed, very funny, and all held together by a wonderful voice.

The show is in two acts. The first was a self-satirical, Dunham-esque personal act in which Goussé played herself by moping about in beautiful pyjamas while making fun of her life choices. The second starred Goussé’s irreverent character Miss Bouzy Rouge: a fictional french cabaret star swanning about in beautiful dresses and making fun of everything. These potentially dissimilar approaches were held together by Goussé’s wit and clear musical talent.

Sarah Goussé has a voice that can only be described as wonderful: rich, deep and versatile. Her singing was a joy to listen to, particularly her rendition of “he’s gonna leave me” which was beautiful: both guttural and delicate. However, my personal favourite number was her intentionally awkward rendition of Kelis’s “milkshake”, complete with uncoordinated sexy dancing.

If the singing gave the show depth, the humour gave it shape. Goussé used self-mocking reflection to let the audience in, and to great success: the show had the feel of a coffee with a very funny friend. I was particularly amused by the monologues about bills and debts (the all-time favourite question of students and creative types: “do I pay my rent on time? Or do I finally pay this overdue gas bill which has now doubled?”) which I found both highly amusing and strangely comforting.

However, while the humour was the axis on which the show spun, it was also, at times, the most disappointing aspect. I’m gonna get a little Grumpy Feminist here. To me, there is a fine line between self-satirising pro-sex feminist humour and, well, straight up Kyle Sanderlands style chauvinism. The former type of humour is subtle, clever and for women. The second is cheap and at the expense of women. While Miss Bouzy Rouge generally stayed in the former category, Goussé drifted towards the latter a little too often for my liking. The word “putain” was thrown about a little too much, and jokes about non-consensual (although apparently enjoyable) anal sex, or whether or not being given €50 by a silver fox for a post-coital taxi home makes one a “slut”, seemed, well, uncharitable towards women and crass in a lazy way. It’s important to remember the difference between clever irreverence and tired cliches.

However, while our differing values of “funny” did dampen my experience of the show, they certainly didn’t ruin it. Musically talented and deeply charismatic, Goussé had me mesmerised for the full one-and-a-half hours, a mean feat given my post-buzzfeed attention span.

P.S. A final Grumpy Feminist thought, why not Ms Bouzy-Rouge?


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