Anyone who’s seen a show by comic chanteuse Diane Chorley has heard of the Flick, the supposedly legendary East End club where the supposedly legendary mover and shaker established her naff-glam reputation as queen of 80s and 90s nightlife, prior to falling on hard times.
Diane Chorley: Modern Love, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh * * * *
Diane Chorley: Down the Flick, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh * * * *
This year, at last, we can all visit the Flick, ‘recreated’ in all its glory as a bespoke venue just off George Square, all fake palm trees, flamingo wallpaper, giant mirrorballs and framed pictures of C-list celebs. It’s a very cute bit of placemaking but also thoroughly apt to this year’s show: Modern Love is all about the power of places like the Flick – a “carefree temple of acceptance” where “everyone is welcome” – to enable outsiders to take refuge, find connection, express themselves and maybe change the world.
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Accompanied by the talented and taciturn Milky on keyboards and guitar, Chorley takes us through the saga of the Flick, from its origins as a working men’s club owned by a petrochemical factory to its emergence as the stuff of legend under her own stewardship. Chorley’s backstory has been cleverly tweaked into a faintly Faustian tale but her persona and demeanour remain the same, all deadpan humour, lots of heart, a dash of self-delusion, a lovely turn of phrase and a steady stream of cultural markers from Paco Rabane to chicken Kiev to Janet Ellis. The songs are mostly familiar too but have never been put to such good use, with numbers like The Night and D.U.C.H.E.S.S perfectly illustrating the story.
Modern Love paints a vivid picture of the heyday of the Flick as a melting pot of British naff and global chic at a specific point in time, a place where real ale and tequila sunrises flowed together.
But, for all its details, it clearly stands for something bigger with acute relevance today: the importance of coming together in difference and joy. As well as hearing the tale in Modern Love, you can get a little hint of what Chorley has in mind at the late-night variety show Down the Flick, at the same venue, where she’s joined by some cracking guests from the weirder, queerer end of Fringe entertainment, some of whom aren’t afraid of an orifice.
Both until 25 August