Cabaret – believe it or not – is a new category at Edinburgh
I’ve been running around, seeing up to six shows a day in the surprisingly rain-free city of Edinburgh. There are too many shows to mention, especially the bad ones… Despite the disappointment I always make a point to catch an hour of cabaret a day; cabaret – believe it or not – is a new category at Edinburgh after a successful campaign fought by singing veterans of the Fringe.
Cabaret is a sacred genre among the converted but it is tainted by far too many end of the pier songs about penises sung by men in drag and less than talented burlesque girls stripping and calling it art.
Happily here at Edinburgh there is some superb cabaret bursting with witty content which will amuse and dazzle – as well as the other stuff, if that’s more your taste.
Sarah-Louise Young, Songs for Cynics at Laughing Horse, 18.30
Songs for Cynics, performed by sweet-toned and sharp-tongued Sarah-Louise Young with her trusty sidekick Michael Roulston at the piano (pictured left), saves the day with cleverly-crafted songs about lovers at breakfast in seaside B&Bs, men you don’t fancy anymore, men you do fancy but only when they don’t speak and (a popular theme at this years Fringe) songs about friends who have ugly babies which you begrudgingly tolerate.
Rachel Parris, The Commission at Laughing Horse, 16.00
Young’s rendition of 'Please don’t hand me your baby' is hilariously matched by another clever songstress on the cabaret scene, Rachel Parris (pictured top), whose show The Commission is on at the same venue.
Parris has a slightly more poppy sound and explains that if she were to have a child she would be totally irresponsible and probably leave it on a bus. She is an sexy blonde disaster zone. Her endearing and slightly kooky outlook is totally beguiling as she sings about her hatred for her best friend’s husband and her jingle-writing career including submissions for Disney, global corporations and the Westminster Education Board anti-drugs campaign.
Parris cuts across a myriad of styles and pastiches with references to Jedwood, Made in Chelsea, Rihanna and Glee. Highlights include 'I Am Amazing' which in true X Factor style incorporates key-change after key-change with no end of grating vocal dexterity. This girl is a hot and nails the best in pop parody. Watch out for her as she’s new on the scene and I predict she will be on our TV screens within the year.
Ali McGregor's Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night at Assembly Checkpoint, 22.40
If you’re unsure what to see, why not go to a cabaret pick of the Fringe with a changing guest list? The best has to be Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night. McGregor (pictured left) is a sublime and powerful singer with stunning stage presence and musicality who hails from the world of opera having sung main roles with Opera Australia.
McGregor has her ear to the ground with the best of the Fringe performing at her show, be it magic, cabaret, comedy or mime. If you can’t make it to Edinburgh she has four nights at the Southbank in September.
Best of the rest
Other highly entertaining and reliable variety cabaret includes The Five-Thirty Cabaret at the Famous Spiegeltent in Newtown hosted by the incomparable transvestite compere with the quickest wit, Myra Dubois, as well as the racier La Clique (pictured left) at 22.00 which includes a myriad of magic, cabaret and burlesque.
The Famous Spiegeltent outside the Assembly Rooms is also a lovely venue as its removed from the downtown grunge of the Fringe proper and gives you chance to wear a dress in heels and not feel like an opera goer in a student frat party.