Cabaret & variety review: Diane Chorley: Rhythm of Live

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: The 1980s were a tumultuous time for Diane Chorley, the louche Essex nightclub impresario, pop icon and recovering Calpol addict affectionately known as the Duchess of Canvey.

Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61)


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Having played previous Fringe dates with her band, the Buffet, Chorley now revisits the 1987 album she cut while acrimoniously estranged from the band, prefacing the songs with the preposterous tales of their creation. Rhythm of Live offers a pleasingly bass-and-synth-heavy combination of outré period pastiche and genuine toe-tappers, brought to life with the help of evocatively named instrumentalist Milky Bar Chris de Burgh and a backing track, alongside period-appropriate quantities of shoulder pads, dry ice and primary-coloured triangles.

Chorley is a rich, endearing creation, narrowed eyes and pursed, half-smiling lips suggesting confident power even as an array of tics trouble that image. She has an absurdly descriptive turn of phrase too (in Jeff Goldblum’s restless features she sees “a hamster under a rug”).

The saga of the album’s creation isn’t always as convincing, leaning on broad, cartoony incidents and lists of naff 1980s celebs and brands. Some songs are underwhelming too, although others – such as the funky yet plaintive Don’t Give Your Love Away – suggest the charismatic chart-topper Chorley just might have been.

Until 27 August. Today 8.40pm.