Liv Morris and George Heyworth’s Bourgeois & Maurice are back with a new flamboyant show which is set to play Soho Theatre until April 30th 2022. “Pleasure Seekers” promises their signature “darkly camp satire and outré fashions” complete with catchy satirical songs and a feast for the senses, but this new show also invites audiences to the temporary “Pleasure Palace” installed at Soho Theatre, where Bourgeois & Maurice dive face-first into gleeful hedonism. Here, Morris and Heyworth chat about the driving forces of this latest show, how they collaborate on new work and why cabaret and the alternative scene is home for them and their work…
Let’s start at the very beginning – how did the pair of you meet and how did Bourgeois & Maurice come to be?
We met while studying theatre. Neither of us can really remember the context, but it was probably in a seminar about something like Carol Churchill’s Favourite Punctuation Marks or How to Alienate Your Audience with Artaud. Then we left, moved to London and found proper inspiration in the world of cabaret and club performers. The rest is (mostly forgotten) history.
How would you describe the driving forces and core elements of Bourgeois & Maurice as performers?
Gaudy, attention-grabbing narcissism underpinned with deep, dark, introspection.
You’ve described this new show as “a feast for the eyes and ears” which “gets a bit weird”… Can you tell me a little more about how “Pleasure Seekers” delivers on spectacle over at your “pleasure palace” at Soho Theatre?
We have enormous billowing curtains of liquid silver. So many types of light Thomas Edison would blush: lights festooning the auditorium, a disco ball, strobes, UV. And of course no pleasure palace is complete without an 8ft piñata which shoots smoke out of its arse and houses a piano in its stomach. We also have five costume changes which range from ‘Timmy Mallett-chic’ to ‘rainbow cult leaders’. The look of Pleasure Seekers adheres to one important rule: more is always more.
I’d say that sounds like it fits the bill! So music is obviously a cornerstone to your work and “Pleasure Seekers” promises “hilariously savage wit” and original music – are the two often combined? Can audiences look forward to savage satire through song?
They certainly can. Satirical songwriting is pretty much the basis of all our work, and in this show we use our trademark catchy pop hooks and ridiculous rhymes to explore a variety of topics including late night shopping habits, being a bad vegan, a journey into the metaverse and the question on everyone’s lips ‘are babies evil?’
Being new to the land of Bourgeois & Maurice, I’m pretty intrigued by the gleefully whacky show descriptors out there: “B&M party their way to ultimate happiness”; “Life-affirmingly demented”; “a high-energy homage to hedonism in all its filthy, fabulous glory”. So tell me, what would you say most or best defines a Bourgeois & Maurice show, or maybe just this particular Bourgeois & Maurice show?
High energy existentialism from two hypercoloured goths.
To date, you’ve penned and performed in nine shows and you’ve toured the world to boot – how does this new show follow on from your previous works and how does it find fresh ground?
This show builds on our style of darkly camp satire and outré fashions, but this time we’ve gone wild on other parts of the production as well. We’ve worked with our amazing music production team to beef up the sound of the music, so it’s much more electronic and dance-y than previous shows. Similarly the set design is like a brilliant nightmare from 80s kids TV, and the lighting design is super sexy. It’s B&M as you know them, but like you’ve never seen them before.
How do you go about creating new work together? Do you tend to go back and forth with individual ideas or is it a case of locking yourselves away to form the next adventure?
We basically get together and whinge about stuff until we hit on something that makes us laugh. Then we build from there. With Pleasure Seekers we knew from the start that we wanted to focus on the notion of ‘pleasure’, and we initially planned for the show to be an unashamed celebration of hedonism and excess. But when we lock ourselves in our bunker and start writing, things can take unexpected turns. With this show we found the simplest question ‘what is pleasure?’ quickly spiralled into ‘who are we? What is life? What is anything?’…which was quite an adventure in itself.
What would you say makes cabaret and the alternative scene home for you and your work?
The openness and vibrancy of the scene, the willingness to take risks, the phenomenal range of talented performers working in so many inspiring ways. Obviously there are gatekeepers to every industry, but with cabaret it feels so much easier to say ‘fine, we’ll build some new gates over here (and leave them open)’. Theatre is changing and there’s so much good stuff being made, but at the top it remains depressingly straight, white, cis and publicly educated…and maybe a bit terrified of the wealth of talent making work just outside the conventional spotlight.
The 21 date run at Soho Theatre is thoroughly underway now – what have you been enjoying most about being back on stage together?
Being absolutely stupid kids. We are so childish when we work together and this show really takes that to new extremes. After the last couple of years that we’ve all had, it feels so good to get on stage and just be really, really silly. The world is terrifying but there’s a fine line between fear and comedy, and this show lets us dance along it with glee.
And finally, what would you say to anyone in two minds about booking to see this show?
Just do it babes, it’s better than another night at home.
So there you have it! “Pleasure Seekers” runs at Soho Theatre until April 30th 2022 and you can find your tickets here.