Hughes hits singing syrup

This is the third time in four years Christa Hughes has performed in the Cabaret Soiree season in the basement of the Maj.

This time she has brought her Beer Drinking Woman, which she devised in 2000, predating her infamous stints with Machine Gun Fellatio and Circus Oz.

So why another review?

The best reason is that if I keep banging on about the glorious Ms Hughes, it might encourage more of you to savour her delicious, generous talents.

And while her recent shows here were both stonkers, Beer Drinking Woman is her stonkiest, not least because it features many of her own funny, desperate songs.

Starting with her Cheap Thrills, an untidy taste of what's to come, and the title track, a Memphis Slim blues number from 1940 enlivened by Hughes' impressive beer skolling and gargling expertise, the show ranges over the peaks and troughs of life on the bottle.

It's not often pretty and Hughes can be savage when the mood takes her; there are hangovers to be endured, much vomiting, unsuitable strangers to wake up alongside and worse, but there's a dark, sexy glamour to it all (Hughes has the legs of a Rockette and exposes them with becoming immodesty).

Even if the jokes are on her, there are lots of them and they are doozies. Hughes has great judgment; there's plenty of fooling around between songs, but never too much (something even the wonderful Meow Meow can be guilty of).

You expect hits and misses in a show like this but there really aren't any of the latter (OK, she doesn't improve Tom Waits' The Piano Has Been Drinking but that can't be done).

A lip-synched, rapid-fire montage of movie drinking lines is remarkable, her bowdlerised versions of My Favourite Things and Is That All There Is are hilarious and she glorifies a cask of wine, distributing its dubious contents to the audience like Edna Everage's gladdies.

But foremost she's a great singer and interpreter of songs. Aided and abetted by fine pianist Leonie

Cohen, Hughes makes Cold Chisel's Cheap Wine something much more than a pub anthem and Britney Spears' Toxic genuinely poisonous.

She trumps Jeff Buckley and Nina Simone's versions of James Shelton's Lilac Wine in a lovely, moving rendition that would become the standard if it were ever recorded.

There are some tables left tonight. It will be a shame if you aren't sitting at them.

Beer Drinking Woman ends tonight.