Berlin Cabaret

4 stars

If you imagine the setting where Sally Bowles performs in ‘Cabaret’ then you get the premise of this decadent German club scenario.

Tales of debauchery, androgenous characters, scantily clad women and men abounded, interspersed with some basic songs (there was no live band as was advertised though). Although sometimes uncomfortable in subject matter, it never quite went over the line which kept the audience feeling ‘safe’, despite a lot of audience interaction!

It was all nicely done and while the singing was not great with few harmonies, it was perfectly adequate and worked well. It was just great fun and a good end to the evening.

Review by Alan

theSpace on the Mile
20-25 August


Revolution! The Musical

3 stars

This was billed as “Britain’s next big musical” – unfortunately it isn’t.

Set in Bosnia over a number of years we were told stories of revolution, romance and war. But it all got confusing – there was projected video at the back but often it wasn’t noticed and when you were aware of it it was too small to work out what was going on (the bridge blowing up for example). This lead to us watching people with names we were unsure of talking about and doing other things which weren’t clear or just seemed completely random (e.g. the diving).

I have to say that the singing was generally excellent, especially from the men who had some really high full-voice requirements. What let the show down though was a lot of really bad, amateur acting – it seems strange to have well-trained singers who don’t know how to even stand still. Some scenes got slightly slow unfortunately and Adela’s clothing seemed completely out of place (sexy jeans/busty top).

Musically there was nothing memorable or even that tuneful; I have to say though that the violinst was excellent and a joy to listen to.

Perhaps this show has a future but it needs a lot of reshaping and development work.

Review by Alan

Paradise in Augustine’s
4-27 August (not 13, 20)

Bereavement: The Musical

4 stars

This song cycle gave us a variety of scenes based around bereavement and grieving and the different ways of coping.

There was nothing morbid here though, just a collection of clever and witty writing which put a nice spin on the whole subject matter without being cliched or offensive.

The excellent music was interesting and tuneful and played by the composer on a grand piano – a grand in C+3, has to be a first! The simple setting and lighting also worked well and overall the performance was delightful.

Review by Alan

1-27 August (not 13)

Dr Quimpugh’s Compendium of Peculiar Afflictions

4 stars

Very interesting to see a professional opera on the Fringe and such a change from the usual musical fayre.

The three singers were excellent and played a multitude of roles. They coped very well with their parts although I did lose quite a few words – the diction is spot on but sometimes the over-articulations meant I had to lip-read a lot.

The three musicians were quite superb, annoyingly gorgeous and performed impeccably. The actual music I found quite random though and when there was a tune it seemed to go on just a bit too long – The Alien Hand for example.

But overall a very interesting show, an unusual subject matter and professionally produced.

Review by Alan
3-26 August (not7, 14, 21)

The Mikado


Usually for a production of an established work, say Shakespeare or Gilbert and Sullivan, an abbreviated version is devised for the Fringe. This is not the case with Happy Go Lucky’s production of The Mikado. Here we have a full 140 minutes version with a short interval between Acts 1 and 2. This results in a very satisfying experience.

There is an intimate feel to the production. The musical accompaniment is provided by a lone female on keyboards placed at the side of the stage and what a fabulous performance she gives. Thus, there isn’t the barrier of a small orchestra between the audience and the performers. The set is minimal and there is no large chorus, the nine principals taking on this role. The men’s costumes are what are expected but the three maids’ dresses show more leg than normal.

The singing is very clear and of a uniformly high standard, no mikes being necessary, and is sustained all the way through. The comedy is very funny. Being close to the stage, every word, action and facial gesture could be heard and seen. The updated version of ‘The List’ song is a huge highlight, a satire on modern personalities whom we could do without.

Leaving the auditorium, it was noticeable seeing the smiles on the audience’s faces and hearing the many favourable comments.

Reviewed by Ben

theSpace@ Surgeon’s Hall: 53

19 to 25 August 2012

15.40 – 17.50

Fringe Programme Page Number: 243


4 stars

A western musical for modern times by a professional cast, this is great fun. The story is typical western-fayre (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) and moves along at pace, although sometimes it gets slightly confusing by the actors playing multiple roles without much differentiation in costume or scenery.

Musically it is an excellent mix of styles, the catchy yee-hah ensemble numbers working particularly well. I did feel however that some of the solo numbers weren’t that tuneful although they were all well sung. Occassionally there was also a song where there didn’t seem to be a need for one.

Backing is by a small band, the piano is excellent and the drums tightly played if too loud sometimes, despite mics being used.

An enjoyable romp overall, it would be good to see a more developed version with more fleshing out of the characters and subplots but certainly a show with a promising future.

Review by Alan

theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall
3-25 Aug

Zambezi Express

4 stars

I’m not really sure what this was about but it was brilliant! Essentially a tale of a boy’s dream of becoming a professional footballer with something about trains and mining at the start and gangsters later on. With some lines in English but mostly not, things were a bit confusing and the plot really seemed to be there to tie together the set pieces.

So what we have here is an african group of singers, dancers and drummers and they are absolutely outstanding. The voices are amazing, the harmonies beautiful and the energy and precision of, well everything, is a joy to watch. Often the drumming drowned out the singing but the whole show was a display of sheer talent, energy and enthusiasm and a joy to witness. Very loud but highly recommended.

Review by Alan

C eca
Until 27 Aug