BWW Review: BOURGEOIS & MAURICE: STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE, Soho TheatreAs one of the leading acts in the queer performance circuit, Bourgeois and Maurice have been entertaining audiences for a decade. Since the opening of their first full-length show Social Work back in 2009 they have enjoyed success across the entire country.

The duo celebrates 10 years of "dicking around" in their new show Style Over Substance - A 10 Year Retro-Speculative, a 75-minute celebration consisting of lots of glitter and clever musical numbers.

Hilarity ensues right from the start as the pair enters in hazmat suits that they can't fully breathe in, with Maurice wearing bulky gloves making it impossible for her to play the piano. They quickly change into nude sequined onesies that are equally impressive in design. Referring to the audience as "humansexuals", they track their journey from 2007 to the present day.

Maurice is nonchalant, passive and dismissive; her drawl and sarcastic mannerisms are funnier than they should be. Alongside this, her blank facial exchanges with the audience provide a superb contrast to the over-the-top, expressive Bourgeois, who tells jokes with precision and commands full attention on stage. They are a perfect performance pairing and the chemistry between the two is hypnotic.

It is evident how much effort has been put into creating each song. Some are meant to make us laugh, others cry, and the rest, who knows, but they still deliver some form of impact. We hear new material that has been written specifically for the show, and are also reminded of some of their previous creations. Not only clever, the music is also political and culturally relevant to contemporary society.

"I Can't Live in London" is an emotional ode to not being able to afford the cost of living, "Tax Me" makes a mockery of austerity, and "British Values" is a new national anthem of sorts. "Goodbye Europe" is a song written five years ago, painting the continent as a former lover the pair encountered at a drug-fuelled sex party. After a messy night the lovers cut ties, and the song demonstrates how the duo may have predicted Brexit back in 2013.

Each show a different drag artist is invited to perform a ten-minute act. We are treated to Ginger Johnson, who sings a rewrite of "Part of Your World" dedicated to the Ikea sale. The song has originality and provides a lot of humour. It's hard to live up to the standard that Bourgeois and Maurice have set, and despite some awkward moments of uncertainty and generic drag tricks, Johnson handles themself well on stage, providing a lovely contrast of performance style.

An exciting twist near the ends leads to the possibility of a new venture for the act. Their encore is its own mini-show in itself, as we are treated to two more songs. The show is controversial, climactic and creative. Every joke lands and the energy never drops.

Bourgeois and Maurice have a unique ability to unpick complex issues with comedy, campiness and clarity. Making the case for the importance of a safe space, they break beyond the barriers of social convention and are a vital necessity to the queer world.

Bourgeois and Maurice at Soho Theatre until 26 August

Photo credit: Guto

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From This Author Charlie Wilks

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