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Review of 4 Poofs and a Piano: Back In Business at Greenwich Theatre ****
UNLESS I have imbibed enough alcohol to floor a Winehouse beforehand, I usually hate group sing-a-longs. I associate the impromptu mass wailing with pensioners’ social clubs, football hooligans and lary ladettes on a Saturday night Lambrini binge.
But by the end of an evening in the company of uber-camp cabaret band 4 Poofs and a Piano, I was gripped by a feverish desire to warble like a cat who got the queen, joining in with the quartet’s dirty, but criminally catchy, ditty in the show’s finale.
David Roper, Stephen de Martin, David Wickenden and Ian Parkin are better known as Jonathan Ross’s house band, before the comedian jumped ship and moved to ITV1, leaving the boys out in the cold.
Having only seen them performing for 30 seconds at a time on the BBC show, singing on guests from Madonna to David Attenborough, it was hard to know what to expect from a two-hour gig.
Emerging from a tube carriage undressed to impress in their undies, the foursome burst into a lively rendition of Dolly Parton’s disco favourite 9 to 5, flamboyantly frolicking in the dry ice under a glitterball.
The tone was, therefore, set early on and what followed was a riot of increasingly camp costume changes, irreverence and innuendo.
After a witty homage to their favourite gay icons, the band gave a cheeky nod to their 10-year stint on Ross’s chat show with a tongue-in-cheek lament, before gloriously sending up Matthew Bourne ballets with a ridiculously funny version of the choreographer’s famous all-male Swan Lake.
Freed from the shackles of Friday night television, each of the Poofs is given a chance to sparkle in the limelight, performing surprising solos which prove the group are more than just singers.
Roper revealed a roof-raising talent for opera and composition, stitching together a fabulous song using bizarre words offered up by the audience, while Wickenden may have the curves, but boy has he got the moves.
However, despite de Martin’s stab at stand-up falling a little flat and a sketch in the second half poking fun at The X-Factor overlong and unoriginal, the natural rapport the boys enjoyed with the audience meant you could forgiven them for the odd naff moment.
From porn to musical theatre, no subject escapes the 4 Poofs’ gaydar, peppering every song with lashings of free-flowing innuendo.
It’s all in the worst possible taste, but done in the best possible spirit.
To find out what shows are coming up at Greenwich Theatre and to book tickets, call 020 8858 7755 or visit greenwichtheatre.org.uk