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Le Gateau Chocolat: Icons review at Soho Theatre, London – ‘celebratory and fabulous’

Le Gateau Chocolat and Marty Hailey in Icons at Soho Theatre

Le Gateau Chocolat solo show is a celebration of the music that shaped him. Icons is a cabaret show with a very personal feel. The set resembles a teenager’s bedroom, with posters of The Goonies, David Bowie, Grace Jones and Tina Turner pasted to the walls. With his thicket of a beard and peacock blue eye shadow, Chocolat is an arresting figure even before he opens his mouth. His voice is both delicate and gloriously meteorological, his ceiling-lifting baritone rich and silky as a Lindor truffle and resonant as a bell.

Accompanied by Marty Hailey and Jamie Safir, he sings versions of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, Madonna’s Live to Tell, Bjork’s Hyperballad and does a mean Meat Loaf impression – complete with wind machine.

The songs are interspersed with tender reminiscences about friends and loves lost and his childhood in Nigeria. Though the show has been knocking around for a couple of years, it does sometimes feel as if there could be a better balance between the patter and the songs, but when then the music takes hold this ceases to matter.

He delivers an unexpectedly heart-battering snatch of You Better Shape Up from Grease and wallows in the disco shimmer of Xanadu. Icons also touches on the idea of drag as a both an act of concealment and exposure – the politics of costume. In these grey, uncertain days, this show feels like one of the best pills you can pop – there’s something inescapably fabulous about listening to a Whitney Houston cover belted out by a man dressed as Beyonce, with foot-long lashes and a voice that can bring down walls.

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Verdict
Life-enhancing, roof-lifting cabaret that celebrates the way music can shape you
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