This weekend’s entertainment options are split into two camps. In the cutting-edge corner, we have the Manipulate Festival of theatre, puppetry, animation and film. In the corner marked “wider appeal”, we have Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats and a performance by Showaddywaddy.
Admittedly, Showaddywaddy’s popularity may have waned somewhat since their 1970s heyday. With their teddy boy suits and shades, they always struck this writer as the peak of musical cool. That admiration cooled a little when my age reached double figures but, 30 years on, it’s still hard not to click my fingers when I hear Under the Moon of Love.
Founding frontman Dave Bartram quit the band in 2011 after a soul-sapping gig in a Welsh caravan park but, while the group have had more personnel changes than Katie Price has had manicures, they still perform around a hundred gigs a year. Their current tour is a celebration of the band’s 40th anniversary and they play the Village Theatre in East Kilbride tonight.
Longevity and outlandish costumes apart, Showaddywaddy and Cats the musical have little in common. Even when singing Doo Wah Diddy, the band makes more sense than the musical’s narrative which veers between irritatingly bizarre and willfully baffling. Not that this has hindered it in any way from being one of the longest running shows on Broadway and in the West End. This new tour opens at The Edinburgh Playhouse tonight.
Likely to be rather more challenging is a show being put on this weekend as part of Manipulate. Taking place at the Traverse, Edinburgh, tonight, Schiklgruber alias Adolf Hitler is a satirical piece of puppetry looking at the last days of Hitler. The Russians may be at the bunker door but the Führer is celebrating his birthday with cake and fretting about the fate of his dogs. Beneath the jollity of Neville Tranter’s characters, the work raises more serious issues about audience sympathies for these historical monsters and also looks at the way many of us deny the inevitability of death. Happy weekend!