Fascinating Aïda, King’s Theatre, Glasgow ****
Covid may have postponed their arrival in Glasgow, but ultimately nothing can suppress the sublime wit and mischief of Fascinating Aïda.
The cabaret trio of Dillie Keane, Adèle Anderson and Liz Pulman opened with the impressively topical song Fake News, referencing a Liz Truss premiership among other things. They have always dug deeper than mere namechecks though, with Is It Me, Or Is It Hot In Here? having long ago anticipated the foregrounding of menopause stories presently in vogue in the arts.
More strikingly, “Adèle’s Song”, aka Prisoner of Gender, only gains currency with the recent focus on transgender identity. A moving, first person account of Anderson’s journey that nevertheless aims for inclusivity and universality, it’s a number that almost took the roof off the King’s Theatre with the reception it received.
Little Girls In Pink is a broader, satirical meditation on gender with Pulman’s soprano to the fore, while the ironic calypso of Lerwick Town and the amusing, damn-with-faint-praise of Suddenly New Zealand put the spotlight on climate change.
Here as elsewhere, founder member Keane displayed some hilariously deadpan clowning skills, her defeated eco warrior efforts part of a more general cynicism. Yet still vital at 70, she ripped through the gloriously lusty Dogging and This Ain’t The Hokey Cokey Any More, the latter a frank, honest yet wonderfully defiant romp about keeping the sexual spark alive in a long-term relationship.
On piano, Michael Roulston was more than mere accompaniment and got to join in the repartee with the chanteuses, leading them through the bluntly funny Bulgarian Song Cycle 2022, while This Table was a rare sincere tune, a lament for lost friends, all the more affecting for its contrast with Anderson’s devilish celebration of Funerals.
Predictably though, it was the group’s grumbling, bugger and begorrah viral hit and swipe at Ryanair, Cheap Flights, that really brought the house down.
Fascinating Aida, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh, 3-29 August, www.edfringe.com