Margot de Sade

RHONDA NICHOLL comes off all lavish after the overwhelming Margot de Sade treats her to an evening of hyperbolic theatre

Cocktail Corpus Corpus Playroom flamboyant fraud Musical Rhonda Nicholl West end

Corpus Playroom, 22nd-26th February, 7pm, £5-6


‘What good is sitting all alone in your room, come hear the music play…’

Having missed the first sell-out night of Miss de Sade’s Farewell Tour, I was swift in visiting her fan-site. Impressed by her dizzying list of dates (New York! Vegas! Corpus Playroom!), I requested membership for the Margot Appreciation Society and booked my ticket in haste.

You see, such great icons do not dazzle for eternity. Recall for a moment the decline and fall of Ms Minnelli in her SATC2 cameo. Liza’s ‘performance’ of Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ marked a sad day for musical theatre.

But all is not lost. We have Margot. Margot mingled melody with memory, working together in harmonious fusion with her sumptuously passive orchestra, alongside us, her faithful friends, and amidst a divine array of keen sponsors (Tena Lady, Interflora, Smirnoff).

In the smooth Corpus Cabaret Lounge we all played a part in unveiling the rich tapestry of Margot’s life, shedding her many-sequined skins, sharing, hand-in-hand, fist-in-fist, the exhilarating highs and tumultuous lows that marked her stage career. This is no West-End Wendy. With candour and sophistication, Miss de Sade delivered a mesmerising montage of musical medleys. She was a true stage butterfly, flitting with vocal ease between the flirtatious joviality of Garland’s ‘Trolley Song’ and later boozy Judy, her voice heavy with broken dreams.

Margot performed with consistent humanistic endeavour. When she sang an extract from Karma Sutra (her own original score) – ‘I want to be Your Greasy Slut’ – the audience gasped in collective empathy. ‘Don’t Applaud!’ she shrieked, clearly dismayed at the vulgar subject matter (bashful South Carolina girl at heart).

She made us happy. She sang ‘Get Happy’ and told us that ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’. Sometimes she made us sad. She peppered humour and hilarity; smut and sadness. She offered us a tragic humanity that never failed to berate the soul. She performed a dazzling array of roles, demonstrating the true complexity and depth of the human character.

She is truly and terrifyingly deep. She spoke to us as a human, as if she knew that it was Week 5, as if she had planned her entire tour around it. She spoke from her personal experiences and warned us to stay away from liquor. There are better ways, she suggested. She gave herself, and the audience, cocktails when she, and we, needed them. There is no literal interval in this production, because in Miss de Sade’s life, there is no time to pause.

Margot carries pathos and tragedy. She also carries – crumpled by both the passage of time, and perhaps by tears – a collection of savage critical reviews, secreted in her bosom.  In one, she was called the ‘the biggest c*** I’ve ever seen’. If you go expecting kitsch and glitter (unless of Gary variety), sequins and sparkle, you will be disappointed. What Margot offers is an existential journey. It is painful, poignant, vulnerable, stubborn, sincere, tumultuous, hardy, tragic, heroic, and harrowing.

Margot: you may return to your tastefully decorated Art Deco bungalow, and you may forget your little Corpus Crowd as you go on to bigger and better things on this, your final tour (next stop, the Royal Albert!). But we will never forget.

Annie will forever be tainted by Gary Glitter, Little Women by the Ku Klux Klan. And Margot, though you may not have been able to save yourself from a descent into valium and alcoholism, your salubrious tales, tough resilience in the face of the corrupt world of show-business, and ever-tasteful sartorial style will provide beacons for us all.  Move over Judy, Liza, and Barbara, we’ve got ourselves a new role-model in town.

EDITOR’S NOTE: it has since come to our attention that ‘Miss de Sade’ is no fading star, but a fraudulent upstart. This makes her even better and we wish her all the best in this week’s run, even if it is founded on lies.

Guide-Dog’s note: Told you so.