Theatre review: Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs!

Alan Cumming takes up residence in The Hub Picture: Toby Williams
Alan Cumming takes up residence in The Hub Picture: Toby Williams
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“Have a hanky ready,” Alan Cumming warns at the start of this bravura cabaret set, and he has a point.

Star Rating: ****

Cumming creates an intense, emotional atmosphere Picture: Toby Williams

Cumming creates an intense, emotional atmosphere Picture: Toby Williams

Venue: The Hub

There’s always an emotional frisson when the Perthshire-born actor turned star of Broadway and US television returns to perform in Scotland, especially in the up-close-and-personal cabaret format. But this time an introspective, sometimes wrenching set list lends an additional intensity. Cumming’s easy, impish charm is on full display and there some jaunty throwaway numbers here and anecdotes about backstage parties or dinner with Liza there. But the heart of the show lies in serious songs about family trauma (Rufus Wainwright’s Dinner at Eight), the ambivalence of home (Hue & Cry’s Mother Glasgow) and the impact of war (Billy Joel’s Goodnight Saigon). There’s a sense of yearning and passion in Cumming’s delivery – a tension between anger, frustration and hope that shows not just in his compelling voice but in the way he drags his hand through his hair or thrusts his arm in the air. Such feeling doesn’t always illuminate the Adele, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry hits that Cumming says he wants us to hear afresh, but overall this is a personal, powerful and polished show. Hanky recommended.

Until 27 August. Today, 10:30pm

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