Naughty Baby, Savoy Theatre, London

Ute's unfunny act fails to revive the dying art of revue
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Is revue finally dead? Or is there still room in the West End for a lone woman with a few songs, a few jokes, and a handful of snarly reminiscences? Come to think of it, was revue ever properly alive, was it ever more than a stuffed dummy luring couples into the West End, giving them something to do between cocktails at the Ritz and supper at the Grill Room?

But it's back. Ute Lemper is currently to be found in the middle of a bare smoky stage in little more than a glittery satin slip, protected only by a bulbous microphone and her own talent. And she's hardly the obvious choice for a show called Naughty Baby. She's more vampiric than naughty.

The lights dim, the cellophane curtain rises, the four-piece strikes a rhythm, and she's there, centre-stage: "Although I'm shatisfied, I'm hungry sthill.'' She belts it out and it's fine but so forgettable. By the time the second song hoves into view, there's a muscular black man in a singlet behind a gauzy curtain striking the sort of poses you find on those posters street hawkers sell outside stations.

But then Ute pulls the gauze down, Singlet Man (Mark Vincent) steps downstage and the result is the most embarrassing mock-coital dancing you'll see this side of the Rhino Club, Preston. It gets worse. They then attempt breathy dialogue – they're wet, she can taste his sweat, she likes it to hurt – no, stop me, spare yourselves.

But the dialogue is a whole lot better than her inter-song monologues: Englishmen have Stiff Upper Lips, and we don't want to join the euro, and after beef with brain diseases we now have animals with itchy mouths and feet.

And the songs? Too few good tunes, lyrics like: "You're so different, like Zarathustra." A song called "Never Forget Me" which only induced in me an attempt to crack the anagram which her name must surely be (Mute Leper, was my best shot).

She redeems some of the naffness with a second-half Hans Eifler medley but even then the voice is so big that it drowns the simple eloquence.

For all its black-clad veneer, for all its embarrassing crotch-hugging sub-Fosse choreography, this is a desperately old-fashioned, unerotic, unplayful, unadventurous and unfunny show.