An Evening Without Kate Bush by Sarah-Louise Young and Russell Lewis. Soho Theatre Downstairs, 21 Dean Street, London W1 to 26 February 2022. 4****. William Russell.

Howling with the hounds of love and scaling Wuthering Heights are only some of the pleasures of this tribute to that most elusive of divas Kate Bush performed by Sarah-Louise Young which she devised with Russell Lewis. It is an hour of delights as she struts the stage impersonating Bush at various stages in her 50 year career, changing costume and wig, cajoling people to join her – a couple end up going ta ta ta as her backing singers, another pair, who revealed themselves as fan on a night out, end up dancing in the shadows. Meanwhile Bush gets on with the job of singing yet another song, changing her wigs, whipping off a spectacular black number with a cape with wings that fold round her and emerging somehow or other in a crimson leotard which leaves nothing to the imagination. It is a send up, but a send up with love. She belongs to the Fish. In other words she is a fan of Bush who made her name at 19 with Wuthering Heights, entrancing the world with that strange swooping high pitched voice, made other records and then disappeared into private life for years before returning – she hardly ever performs in public but her concert season at the Apollo in 2014 was completely sold out within 15 minutes so devoted are her fans here, there and pretty well everywhere. It is a beautifully crafted hour and Sarah-Louise Young knows how to handle an audience so that it does what she wants. We sang along, we howled, we clapped, we behaved, even when we were not, like fans. The songs were treated with respecy and gently mocked – Bush is pretty weird at the best of times – and Sarah-Louise Young is not doing a tribute act but rather paying homage. We get Babushka and a lecture in how to pronounce the word, Fon’t Give Up without “the boring Peter Gabriel bits” and as a climax the one that started Kate Bush on her long, if intermittent, career. Bush may have been absent but the stand-in on hand was bliss.

Production photograph: Steve Ullathon.

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