As a twenty year old, the performative world of Kate Bush is a complete mystery; as just a lover of her music, the ins and outs of her performance are not something I am not all that familiar with but, after witnessing the absolute madness of An Evening Without Kate, I would say I now have an inkling into the unique flare and extravagance that is Kate Bush. Unfortunately, the overall experience feels too forced in regards to comedy and there are areas that feel rather rough around the edges – it is undeniably a working progress but it has definitely proven itself as having the makings of a fantastic show.
An Evening Without Kate Bush is a participation-phobe’s worse nightmare. The first ten minutes are an awkward half-silence dividing the room between Kate Bush super fans and those that aren’t – ‘Hounds of Love’ being the pinnacle of this with strained and embarrassed howls/whimpers going around the audience. Afterward, panic ensues as Sarah-Louise Young ventures into the audience looking for a victim to describe their affiliation to Bush, to go for a little waltz or even sing backing! Somehow, however, the participation works at warming up the audience and instilling a bit of the Kate Bush spirit into the room, swiftly subsiding the stilted atmosphere.
Where this show falls down is in its confusion over which songs to put a personal touch on and which ones to leave as they are. For example, ‘Wow’ is interrupted with a verbal description of Bush’s choreography which, whilst impressive and amusing, leaves you feeling like the music has not been done justice. Having said that, the Russian translation of ‘Babooshka’ is absolutely hilarious and Young’s characterisation throughout this number is quirky and captivating. The issue is that this balance is not consistent: as the evening draws to a close the expectations rise in wait for ‘Wuthering Heights’ which, for the first half, Young does not sing and instead leaves it to the audience. Understandably, without any visual aid for lyrics and in such an intimately sized room this had the effect of circling back to the awkwardness of the very beginning – it didn’t end in a ‘champagne pop’ (that we learn is one of Bush’s signature moves) but rather more of a dull fizz.
Throughout the many wacky costume changes, props and dialogue the one (and most important) thing that stands out is the quality and confidence of Young’s performance. Her voice is stunning – a fitting tribute to Bush which, in itself, is no mean feat to pull off. To have the ability to execute such a challenging act in tribute to such a loved icon is incredible and Young deserves a serious round of applause for her performance.
With just a few tweaks and more commitment to following through with each song this show would be absolutely fantastic. As it stands, it is still a very enjoyable evening – it would have been a very different story if I had been dragged up for some audience participation though!