Festival Cabaret

Meow Meow's Little Mermaid

The Hub

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Keith Bruce

four stars

IF LAST year's Alan Cumming residency at the Edinburgh Festival's home venue seemed one of director Fergus Linehan's bolder new directions, it is remarkable how Australian cabaret artiste Meow Meow's presence there for the full run of this year's event now seems such a perfect fit.

Those who would never be seen at a Fringe show have already been introduced to her, of course, as the glamour and proper singing in Barry Humphries' Weimar Cabaret at the Usher Hall, but really this is a show that has transitioned from Bill Burdett-Coutts Assembly programme to a slot at the "official" festival. What it gains there, especially as Linehan has not packed the space with other events this year, is space to breathe as no Fringe cabaret ever has, with strict time slots and demanding technical schedules. Trap doors and flying shackles are here for the duration and Meow Meow makes the most of all the accoutrements, but chiefly takes her time. There is not a lot of Hans Christian Andersen, or, perish the thought, Walt Disney, in this fishy-tailed girl's search for love, but there is a very fine band in matelot tops, who make there way through the crowd to their place at the back. There is also, of course, audience participation, and if all the lucky lads are as good as the three gents who were selected on opening night, every audience is in for a treat.

In time, the technical aspects of the show take over, but that is for you to find out. Let's just say that those of us who thought the fizz had gone out of post-modernism were wrong.