Pleasure Seekers

Bourgeois & Maurice

Soho Theatre

Meaninglessness magicked into merriment, existential dread made entertaining and nihilism turned not-so-bad! Take a dive into the razor-filled bath of Georgeois Bourgeois and Maurice Maurice’s latest show. Taking the world by storm, or raining on its parade, either worksWe are greeted by a classic Soho theatre set, silvery lamé curtains, and a humongous piñata with a “warning extreme pleasure” sign around its neck. At this point, nothing shocks me in the chameleonic main space of this venue. Out explodes our dangerous duo in outfits that are a curious mix of Barbarella-space-age boots and reflective fabric, Adam Ant make-up with a little drag heightening, and a beehive (sported by Maurice) higher than Elvira herself. Visually it’s a look…. spelled LEWK.

A strong start is normally important in cabaret and comedy. Knock ’um down with the first punch and they rarely recover (a particularly brutal boxing metaphor but helpfully applicable to theatre). This is not the case with Pleasure Seekers. Although high energy, the first song ‘None Stop Pleasure’ is vocally a little shaky. Although dazzled by the dancing duo spackled in sparkles, worries start to mutter in my sensitive critic’s brain.

Yet warming up into the concept and songs they build from strength to strength. Claiming to be siblings, they complement each other wonderfully as a comedy duo in the style of Morecambe and Wise or maybe more French and Saunders. Bourgeois provides the vocal ability, heavily influenced by 1980s combos such as Erasure and Dead Or Alive. He drives a lot of the comedy but is reliant on the dry and deeply British delivery of snappy zingers, highlighting the saber-edged script.

Maurice is an expert physical/character comedian, reluctant to “do the songs” that the show is made up of and gloriously pessimistic about finding her own pleasure. Vocally she is not as confident as her brother but provides much-needed higher harmonies and backing with the piano hidden in the giant piñata. Without her clown ability, the show might come off as overly dry.

The concept is a heady mix of smutty drag comedy and knowing theatre showmanship. The hunt for pleasure in all its myriad forms and the contradiction therein takes them on a sidesplitting journey. From a blue song about Bourgeois’ battle with his desire for meat (as a vegan) and the extermination of all babies to the metaverse and the darkest corners of late capitalism. They manage to keep these deeply worrying issues (climate crisis, consumerism) light with an almost childlike exploration of a world churned by misery. Their attempt to be “optimistic Olivias” proves to be comically more complex than they originally thought.

The jokes are on point, the outfits are ludicrously appropriate, and the little clever theatre details reassure you that you’re in safe hands. Finishing with a ballad by 1970/80s New York art scene legend Klaus Nomi proves that underneath the layers and layers and layers of eye makeup these two are gifted theatre-makers. Pop along down and forget your troubles as they are ridiculed in front of you, and enjoy the bonus points if you’re a 1980s baby as these two clearly know their way around a mixtape. Hats or in this case Beehives off to you both!