Ettie Boo's Cabaret Boonanza
The Laughing Horse @ The Counting House
Ladies and Gentlemen, Buonosera!
Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer Won't Stop, Shan't Stop
The Voodoo Rooms
Cabaret is, by nature, a mixed bag. You can have burlesque, acrobatics, juggling, and of course, the song and dance most people expect, all performed by a rag-tag group of fascinating misfits.
Ettie Boo is a trifle unexpected, with her blue hair and Heidi costume, but she speaks, sings, and praises her hand-picked acts with the gusto of a traditional host. The show is a different one every night, and, as part of the Free Fringe, is always going to be value for money. (Donations are gratefully received, and on the night in question, were given, at the end of each show.) Dot Cotton who resembles a clownish Sally Bowles, performed a mime set to an endlessly wandering radio dial. Doug Segal stunned the audience with his numeric accuracy (think a bar-room Derren Brown who occasionally hectors his audience participants) and his other "mind-reading" tricks, and Julie Jones did a hilariously misguided strip tease to er, some music off the telly. Mr Meredith was an old-school smoothy with dry, observational comedy and the right-on song "What is a Man?" And the act of the night was Belgian Florian Brooks who astonished and delighted the crowd with his virtuoso juggling. If the line-up continues apace, this will continue to be a fun night, every night.
In the Fringe brochure's cabaret section, but more Opera-lite than sinful good time, is Ladies and Gentlemen, Buonosera! The show itself is fronted charmingly by an Italian couple who entreat the audience to savour all of the pleasures that Italy has to offer. Fun banter and beautiful voices take us through the amusing ups and downs of romance, as well as some cringey audience participation. It's a light show, a fun show, a show for fans of Italian music, and for those who can sing along con brio.
Another singalong, of an entirely different form, is of the fellow who styles himself Mr B, The Gentleman Rhymer. Late nights are hard on critics. We traipse and tread the city's cobbled streets, footsore and weary, from venue to venue, morning til night. It's a real heartsink when an act is billed at starting at 10.30pm, but folks, I perked right up within seconds of this so-called champion of "chap-hop" taking the stage with his banjolele. He positively pops with infectious energy, you can't help but shout, clap and stomp. And laugh. And laugh. And laugh again. His covers of Real Slim Shady, I Like Big Butts, and Fight For Your Right (to Party) had me positively levitating with joy. And the rest of the crowd was raising the roof at his hilarious, original, rapid-fire material, delivered in a signature upper-class cadence. Go, see.