Adèle Anderson on the Edinburgh Festivals: 'I am incapable of singing and banging a tambourine'

Actress, comedian and composer Adèle Anderson tells us what she gets up to in August in Edinburgh
Adèle Anderson. Picture: Steve UllathorneAdèle Anderson. Picture: Steve Ullathorne
Adèle Anderson. Picture: Steve Ullathorne

I only have time to see one show in Edinburgh. Why should I go to yours?

My pianist, Dean Austin, says “To see the living legend known as Dame Adèle Anderson”. I say, because I offer the audience a delicious cornucopia of dark songs. They are by a variety of composers and show a very different side of me from the one that the public usually sees when I perform with Fascinating Aïda.

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Now I think of it, I’ve got time to see two. What else should I definitely go to?’

A show entitled Death, Dating and I Do, by my hilarious American friend, Paige Jennifer Barr. Cancer killed her husband, she had her first one-night stand and now she’s marrying an accountant. She also accompanies herself on the ukulele as she sings self-penned songs about her journey. It’s on for one week only: 13-18 August at the Space on the Mile, Venue 39 (the Radisson Blu hotel on the High Street) at 11:15am.

What are the best and worst things that have happened to you at the Edinburgh Festival?

They are one and the same. I fell in love with a fellow performer I met during the festival. Then it all went wrong. On the plus side, the way I got over it was to write songs about it, one of which I am still performing in my current show 27 years later!

Please describe where you’re living this month.

Dean and I are in a lovely two-bedroomed flat on the second floor of a terrace at the bottom of the New Town. We have a view of some lovely gardens from our kitchen window. You hear such horror stories of substandard accommodation being let out during the festival at exorbitant prices, but ours is clean and comfortable.

What’s your favourite place in the city and why?

Dean Village, because it is nothing like the rest of the city. It’s lovely to walk by the water there.

Who do you most like spending time with at the festival?

It would be churlish to spend time with only one person, as I know so many people who are performing here. I try to see as many of their shows as I can although, as so many are cabaret performers, their time slots often clash with mine. In which case, we arrange to meet at one of the festival bars later.

Where can I find you at 9am, 9pm and 2am?

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At 9am I am usually asleep, although I have a couple of early starts to see shows like Paige’s. At 9pm I am usually seeing a show. Last night it was the Tattoo. At 2am I have been in bed so far, but it is early days and I fully intend to extend my evenings to 2 or 3 am as the festival progresses.

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

I am incapable of singing and banging a tambourine rhythmically at the same time.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I drink a pint of hot water containing some lemon and lime juice. It kickstarts my day.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?

Put in my mouthguard. I grind my teeth in my sleep and this protects them. Most attractive!

Thanks for the interview! I’d like to buy you a drink. Where are we going and what are we drinking?

We are going to L’Escapade, 2 Dundas Street, a bar on the way home to our flat. It’s owned by a dynamic young man called Dylan.

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The décor is chic and there is artwork available to buy on the walls. He creates his own cocktails. I’ll have his signature cocktail, L’Escapade and you can have Gay and Proud (it contains Gay rum).

• Fascinating Aida’s Adèle Anderson is at Assembly George Square Studios until 26 August, 6:45pm. Adèle will also perform at A Gala for Mental Health, Pleasance Dome, 20 August, 10:15pm.