Is hedonism all it is cracked up to be?

By: Sep. 21, 2023

Review: BOURGEOIS & MAURICE: PLEASURE SEEKERS, Wilton's Music Hall Probably one of the finest bands most people have never heard of, quite why Bourgeois & Maurice aren't widely recognised as national treasures is something of a mystery. These arch-satirists return with another show pushing the boundaries of comedy and cabaret every which way with songs as sparky and bizarre as their designer outfits. Just how many other bands can joke about taxation, chemsex parties, the EU and social media to equally hilarious effect? 

Their latest opus Pleasure Seekers is their sixth album with the duo this time peering into the dark side of ecstacy. With a hedonistic zeal that would put Aleister Crowley to shame, the pair gloriously expose their own guilty sources of joy before philosophical introspection and a good long stare into the abyss leads them to realise the real nature of happiness. Sausages (both literal and metaphorical) are celebrated, babies are derided and the many wonders of late-night online shopping are extolled. If only Socrates had been half as fun as this lot.

That all might sound rather deep but there’s an almost endless stream of gags, jabs and jibes with an enviably wide range of references. The title song alone manages to cram in mentions of techno temple-cum-sex club Bergain, Bianca Jagger’s infamous entrance into Studio 54 aboard a horse and Marie Antoinette who, as they put it, “lost her head for getting her tits out with the 1% / but what people didn’t realise was: it was a legitimate work event”.

Pleasure Seekers had a well-received run last year, garnering an Off West End cabaret nomination and returns to Wilton’s Hall. As Georgeois Bourgeois and stage sibling Maurice Maurice, George Heyworth and Liv Morris have been releasing albums since 2007, pumping out shows and joyfully spreading their chart-friendly nihilistic cabaret charms like, say, The Tiger Lillies on MDMA. 

Their musical numbers alone are a solid reason to pull up a pew but this is an act that really rewards those who come out to see them. Costumes from long-term collaborator and fashion designer Julian Smith are as colourful and out there as ever, the props - including a giant rainbow-hued pinata - are memorably quirky and the pointed banter between songs is effortlessly funny (on the subject of green policies: “Insulate Britain? Isn’t it insular enough?”. Stage direction from Jude Christian and music direction from Victoria Falconer and Jarrad Payne is bouncy and fresh, aided by some wild choreography from Will Tuckett

Beneath the mellifluous melodies and glittery garbs lies a sophisticated intelligence at work recalling the smart pithy wit of Tom Lehrer and Randy Rainbow. Like those two, Bourgeois & Maurice aren’t afraid to drop in some sharp observations - for example, that for queer folk, the Covid era wasn’t the first global pandemic in recent memory. 

Whether belting out expertly-honed adult pop songs with dance routines that wouldn’t shame a stadium band or dishing out deliciously unpredictable macabre comments, this is a band that knows how to deliver an evening of perky and thought-provoking entertainment.

Bourgeois & Maurice continue at Wilton's Hall until 23 September.

Their new album is available online.

Photo credit: Holly Revell

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