A cabaret of songs by Kit Hesketh-Harvey and Ian McConnel
Kit Hesketh-Harvey (singer) & Ian McConnel (pianist)
Reviewed by: Tom Vallance
Reviewed: 26 February, 2013
Venue: The Crazy Coqs, Brasserie Zédel, Piccadilly Circus, London
Kit and McConnel is a recent addition to the entertainment scene. Kit (Hesketh-Harvey) had performed a double act with Richard Sisson (The Widow) for nearly thirty years, but now has a new collaborator, old friend Ian McConnel. The new show is primarily built around Kit, who does most of the vocal solos, with McConnel playing the piano and occasionally joining in for some lively banter. Their material is satire, with droll comment on the news and personalities of the day. Older people may recall the Western Brothers, a music hall and night-club act from the 1920s to the 1950s, or Flanders & Swann, though the latter were more genial, less bawdy but occasionally archly whimsical, which thankfully Kit and McConnel never are.
One of their early numbers announces that they have “never been touched by Jimmy Savile”. They are not going to be inhibited by good taste! Asked if he is on Twitter or Facebook, Kit suggests that he is on “Twitface”. Among the currently in-the-news subjects skewered are the horsemeat scandal, Pope Benedict’s resignation, Fifty Shades of Grey, the Internet and politicians. Making a case for Nick Clegg (at the time of writing the Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom), Kit hears from his partner that Clegg is half-Dutch (“He should be Nick Clog!”), and discussing the Clegg’s self-confessed tally of thirty lovers, he wonders how many “thirst to be his thirty-first”. Ed Miliband, David Cameron, John Major and Edwina Currie, plus Berlusconi, are all victims of wicked observations, and there is a long number based around Russian elections and Vladimir Putin (inspired by Boney M’s ode to Rasputin). Occasionally, the mood changes, notably when Kit sings a sombre ballad about the war in Afghanistan.
McConnel has the limelight in a sketch that mirrors a favourite ploy of Franz Liszt (seriously?) in which they fashion a tune by matching musical notes to the name of an audience member. On this occasion it was Susan, McConnel improvising a rhapsody. The duo also make comments on an imagined elderly married couple reading Fifty Shades of Grey and the dismayed man countering his wife’s pleas for exotic elements to be introduced into their love-making. Though most of their melodies are no more than serviceable, Kit & McConnel display fondness for the chanson, and have fashioned a passionately persuasive Jacques Brel-like number for Kit’s climactic and defiant declaration, ‘I am cabaret’, a fine finish to a stimulating evening.
- Kit and McConnel is at The Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zédel, 20 Sherwood Street, Piccadilly Circus, London W1 until Saturday 2 March 2013
- Bookings 020 7734 4888