Cabaret & variety review: Amelia Ryan: Lady Liberty

editorial image
Have your say

Glitz and humour prove a liberating mix.

Star rating: ****

Venue: Assembly George Square Theatre (The Box) Venue 8

No-one likes the word comedienne any more. But for Amelia Ryan it’s a good fit. Ryan is a drop-dead gorgeous funny girl, who sings, sparkles and isn’t averse to a bit of good old-fashioned vulgarity.

She’s one of those women who effervesces with proper glamour, even in a shipping container outside a university library. She’s carried on to the stage, I won’t tell you how, wrapped in a towel, which you just know is going to have a fabulous sparkly gown underneath.

There are further costume changes later in the show - managed by getting two audience members to hold up a sheet.

Ryan is, daft, funny and tremendously likeable. At one point she’s dressed up as a low-budget Disney mermaid with one member of the audience blowing bubbles and another pretending to be a fish. Her show is the story of how she found her groove. How a small town girl from nowhere Australia dreamt of going to New York and finding freedom.

She illustrates her adventures with beautifully-sung well-known pop and musical numbers with cleverly and wittily rewritten lyrics, accompanied by the fantastic Michael Griffiths on piano.

Although outwardly she’s all sparkle and showbiz, Ryan’s inspirations are powerful fabulous women – not just Bette Midler, as you might expect, but also Gloria Steinem and Maya Angelou.

There’s a dark side to show business and the pursuit of beauty which can have a damaging effect on young women and Ryan is not afraid to talk about it.

She not perfect, she makes mistakes – and we like Amelia Ryan all the more for letting us know that.

There’s a lot of glitter in this show but it has heart, and a feminist heart at that.

Until 28 August. Tomorrow 9:40pm.

Click here for more reviews from the Edinburgh Festival

Click here for news from the Edinburgh Festival

Click here for guides from the Edinburgh Festival