Cabaret star Paulus and pianist Michael Roulston showed that it takes two men to do the job of one woman when they performed the songs and some of the comedy of Victoria Wood.
Taking on the work of such a beloved figure is a daunting task, but this was much more than a tribute show. They tackled the songs differently and blended elements of autobiography and showbusiness into the show, which packed a lot into its compact sixty-minute performance time.
With nearly 30 years performing and entertaining crowds, Paulus was clearly in his element, performing songs which had originally entered his life as a young man growing up in Kent, trying to find his place in the world, and finding something of a kindred spirit in Victoria Wood.
The music to many of the songs is deceptively difficult, but it was in safe hands with Michael Roulston, who played the numbers with respect but added some bluesy country-rock flourishes into At The Chippy.
They looked at how lyricism was as important in the words that Victoria Wood choose for her characters, the warmth with which they were created, and how she would often give some of the best lines in a script to her co-stars.
Many songs were played, with Paulus proving himself able to sing and tell the stories that were in them, which looked at everything from failed relationships in It Would Never Have Worked, the adolescent whimsy of Fourteen Again, or the musical highlight of the evening, Love Song – a number full of pathos.
The evening, ended as might be expected with the musical and comedic tour de force of The Ballad of Barry and Frieda (Let’s Do It) which showed in three minutes of levity that all life really is here.