For the first second you hear of a cabaret show exploring gay history, the response is “great! an hour of happy, queer, informative fun”, until you remember that a big part of gay history is, in fact, years of struggling against fear and hatred just seeking acceptance. Not to say that cabaret cannot have a dark subject matter, but the balance is key. The dapper, aristocratic and camp Lord Hicks hopes to achieve that balance in the cleverly named Sod’s Law.
Lord Hicks himself is sassy, but reservedly so, almost stony-faced at times. This may be as a bitter response to the injustices against the LGBTQ+ community, past and present, but it does remove some of the entertainment value from the performance without adding weight. His posh mannerisms and eloquent speech are flawless though, and the detail of the history is impeccable. The closing song on derogatory names for gay people throughout history (poof, twink, backgammon player) was a clear crowd favourite.
All of the songs are well delivered, with Hicks’s rich voice hitting high notes. He performs in falsetto with ease. He reworks songs to fit the topic, and though the rhymes are sometimes tenuous, it is an oddly liberating joy to hear Greensleeves played on ukulele and covering the topic of gay prosecution in Tudor times. Not all the songs are reworked though, making the audience question how relevant they are, and if they are just being included out of sheer self-indulgence. Politely informing his audience that “I will now rock out”, Hicks clearly takes pride in his performance, but some songs feel superfluous. Sod’s Law may not be totally original, but if the sound of a cabaret about the history of homosexuality and the LGBTQ+ community interests you at all, you will not be let down.