Festival review: Step into my Parlour; The Royal Oak, Edinburgh

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IT’S THE first time this reviewer has ever been offered a biscuit – a Crawford’s sandwich wafer, if I’m not mistaken – by a singer during a performance.

At least I wasn’t handed knitting, unlike one audience member in the Oak’s famously intimate lounge, with dire warnings about not losing the tension.

Puzzled? Step into Cork singer Michelle Burke’s parlour, where she presides for the duration of the Fringe, knitting, sipping sherry, dispensing household tips and reminiscing fondly with overtones of Father Ted’s Mrs Doyle. Oh, and she sings too, and beautifully, accompanied by the young Highland pianist James Ross, whose considerable skills are slightly underemployed here in what amounts to a good 
old-fashioned soirée.

There’s an old-time music hall feel to songs such as Eileen O’Grady and Twilight Time, along with more established folk repertoire such as My Boy Billy and Lovely Johnny. Burke delivers them in a winsome lilt, though a couple of numbers of real power might have taken the session beyond the entertaining and charming exercise in cosiness that it is.

Rating: ***

• Until 26 August. Today 6:30pm.