Welcome ladies and gents to 'The Meat Cabaret', a unique new musical which clearly did not get the memo about veganuary. Meat jokes aside, Slap 'N' Tickle Theatre Company have concocted a deliciously raw and creepy exploration of the female experience in a well-executed theatrical piece, that I'm sure Bob Fosse would have commended.
We are ushered into the theatre with a catchy theme tune and focus in on our main character, a modern day beauty vlogger. It's not perhaps the warmest of welcomes, as deep red lipstick is smeared all across her face, as she showcases her 'sexy showgirl look' with a MAC lipstick she found 'at the back of the cupboard'.
What I loved about 'The Meat Cabaret' is how raw and exposed the direction has taken. As opposed to an aesthetically pleasing set, our beauty vlogger is in her pyjamas, with the washing on in the background and dishes astray in her kitchen set up. Camera angles remain in extreme close-ups, for her audience to heavily inspect.
What we are forced to question in the show is how exposed are we, and whether we have always been this exposed? Our vlogger has a problem and the Internet overhears this, as our ‘Master Carver’ appears on her screen to ask 'Having a problem? I can help!'. This is particularly relatable for the audience, who – through the increased use of surveillance technologies and ambient A.I. – are more than a little familiar with that preemptive ‘assistance’.
We then flick between our modern day vlogger and the glamour of olden days, with our glamorous showgirls (aptly named 'Miss Steak' and 'Baby Beef') and Chicago-esque musical numbers. In one number, we're transported to an intimate bathtub, whereby the ingénue 'Baby Beef' playfully dances to Marilyn Monroe's 'I Wanna Be Loved By You'. It's hard not to comment on Monroe's own legacy of being iconic for being a bombshell and clearly exposed in many different ways. With Monroe's seductive voice being overheard during this dance, in a bath full of blood, it's an eerie depiction that perhaps we've been exposed to for far too long. In particular, it's the female form that's been overexposed – exploited for the male gaze to scrutinise. There doesn't seem to be any limits in this world to which we inhabit.
For an emerging young theatre company working in a digital way, Slap 'N' Tickle have done a tremendous job of making the piece feel interactive for their audiences. We're encouraged to clap at points, are treated to a diverse range of different camera angles to see what our cast is seeing, and are treated to a little interval and cocktail recipe to keep us satisfied. I cannot wait to see what they do in a physical space.
Season 2 of [email protected] is jam-packed with over fifty pieces covering the theatre, film, music, comedy and more. All pieces were conceived and created in lockdown and can be viewed until 31 January 2021 from the comfort of your own living room.