CABARET and revue is alive and well in the Borders, at least judging by the reaction to the Two Moronnies’ latest offering to a packed Carlops Village Hall.

This Morss and Wilcock double act makes a nod in style to the Two Ronnies and digs into the treasure trove of musical numbers and character sketches that have lain gathering dust in the attic for the past few decades. Backed by the amazing, virtuoso pianist Graham Macdonald and a jazz band led by the Campbell clan with Colin Hall (sax), John Levine (sax and clarinet) and the dexterous Alan Ferguson (piano, accordion, banjo, guitar, percussion), the Moronnies galloped through songs made famous by Flanders and Swann, Porter, Berlin, Lehrer, Carter Family, Red Clay Ramblers, Madness, Queen, Abba and several others. And the mellifluous, melancholic soprano tones of Annie Patch provided a nice counter-balance to the energetic style of the two main characters on show. This show saw the Moronnies move away from their comfort zone of music hall and patter songs, embracing new genres in pop and bluegrass, both sets of which went down a storm with the audience. Crazy Little Thing Called Love had a brand new set of words allowing Freddie Mercury’s granddad to lament the perils of old age and Super Trooper became a treatise on global surveillance services. Bluegrass included songs about Satan’s Choir, the perils of the bottle and a quick-fire rendition of My Dixie Darling. But there was enough of the duo’s staples in there to please their rapidly expanding fan base. Good old Nigel Farage provided plenty of ammunition for their biting wit and Flanders and Swann and Kenneth Williams made welcome returns. And a couple of absurd sketches in the style of Cook and Moore and a cleverly crafted take on Mastermind gave the audience a timely break from the music.

This act now has real polish to go with its trademark pace and energy. Sure, there remains the odd rough edge but Morss and Wilcock are now confident enough in themselves and their characters to exploit the humour from such situations. They have nicely contrasting styles - Morss is a whirligig of nervous energy, whilst the urbane Wilcock is as happy camping it up as he is working the audience with his mischievous sense of humour. Costumes were again inventive, changes slick and the performers are content to leave the music to speak for itself, which it invariably does.

It was an evening guaranteed to blast the post-Christmas blues away and, as a bonus, it raised over £800 for Borders Forest Trust and Mary’s Meals. The two rather hoarse performers told me afterwards they are planning an election special later in 2015 and will happily bring their show to any village or society looking to raise money for a charitable cause.

Judging from the sustained audience applause at the conclusion of their latest little effort, they could well be flooded with offers.

Review by Dylan Cleh