Going into How to be a Bad Girl, fittingly, takes you directly through a Hotel Bar. Ert Records’ press release promised a night of debauched singing, and that is exactly what was delivered. Sabrina Chap, the sole performer, blazes through her boozy, bluesy set with all the delicacy of a pneumatic drill, dishing out smut, satire and existential dread in equal measure. The onslaught is relentless; Sabrina hopes to make you “feel this f*cking thing” with her.
It’s not all chaos though, as How to be a Bad Girl’s narrative suggests. Sabrina mentions an upbringing punctuated by classical piano lessons and attempts for parental approval. She certainly earns our approval—the classical piano paid off. Sabrina doesn’t so much as glance down at the keys as she cracks jokes and openly mocks the audience for their alphabetical illiteracy. She’s not drinking, surprisingly; Sabrina drinks water at regular intervals throughout the performance, presumably to protect her voice from the perils of late-night crooning. Think Eartha Kitt. Think female Tom Waits. Think nihilistic Cole Porter. There’s a real intelligence to Chap’s performance, made clear by her references to obscure literary figures and her own lyrical literacy. Her emphasis on education is also a notable highlight, albeit not one I feel appropriate to repeat in this review—it’d spoil the fun. It would also necessitate some profanity.
Chap’s timing is consistently precise, with the audience being incorporated rather than merely participating. Chap is quick, reactive, and oozing with personality. Her comedic deftness is matched by her musical prowess, and her magnetism is undeniable. What’s even more impressive is how Chap somehow manages to make erudite points about sexual politics, and just plain old politics, whilst simultaneously preserving her “slutty” stage presence. There’s a lot to be said for the balance of the performance; it’s delicately maintained, despite the indelicacy of literally every other aspect of Chap’s performance.
How to be a Bad Girl is on at 22:30 until the 26th in The Laughing Horse at The Place Hotel. If you feel like getting your rocks off, Somna highly recommends you choose Sabrina Chap to assist you.