Fringe Music & Cabaret

Christina Bianco: Party of One

Assembly George Square


Michelle Brasier: Space Tortoise

Gilded Balloon Teviot Row


A Bit of an Overshare

Sweet Grassmarket


Rob Adams

Is there a female singing or speaking voice that Christina Bianco can’t do? In her hour onstage, the New Yorker puts forward a strong case for her, rather than Chaka Khan, being the vehicle for I’m Every Woman. She literally goes through an A to Z, and more, conveying with remarkable accuracy the vocal tones, ticks and mannerisms of stars from Judy Garland to Lady Gaga.

She even does Judy Garland doing Lady Gaga, and entertaining she is, too. It’s a slick, professional, accomplished performance but at times it resembles a sophisticated karaoke and to have her excellent musicians, who elsewhere handle some quite detailed arrangements with effortless panache, sitting idle while backing tracks play seems a waste.

Bianco’s talent for impressions began early and she weaves her own story into myriad targets which include a merciless and amusing savaging of Barbra Streisand’s vanity published coffee table tome, My Passion for Design, as interpreted by a cast including a wickedly observed Cheryl Cole. All good fun but her vocal duet with her keyboardist/musical director on When You Wish upon a Star comes not a moment too soon in providing some real musical interaction.

In 1968 the Soviet Union sent a tortoise into space, allegedly, and Michelle Brasier’s inflatable carapace-bearing protagonist is determined to follow in its stumpy footsteps because it was her father and the idea of space travel beats the hell out of being a tortoise working in a Sydney clothes shop.

From this bonkers scenario an equally bonkers hour develops, with Brasier interspersing her daft narrative with rocket fuelled power ballads, a kazoo-driven appropriation of The Final Countdown, an ill-starred love affair with a chap called Aladdin, and casual maltreatment of her accompanist and front row victims, who include a conscripted “mic stand” and the guy who owned up when Brasier asked if anyone frequently engaged in phone sex.

Victims notwithstanding, Brasier is an endearingly spontaneous and self-deprecating host and despite an ill-fated attempt to introduce some middle-eastern drama on recorder during her Aladdin phase, she isn’t without musical talent. As a show it’s a bit of a work in progress and quite possibly will remain as such. Which is fine because therein lies its late-night carousing appeal.

Claire Healy steps out from her role as keyboardist, ukulele player and target for Michele Brasier with her own afternoon cabaret, A Bit of an Overshare – or as it might also be reasonably dubbed, A Bit of an Effin Overshare.

Like the little girl in Bill Bryson’s gag about the Australian builders (“if we ever get the effin bricks”), Healy swears with Aussie relish as she gives out way too much information in song and monologue. The monologue soon becomes a dialogue with her audience, though, as between witty ditties about the attractions of Aldi and tales of her apparently hopeless love life, she becomes choir master, dispenser of chocolate and chocolate biscuits and understanding agony aunt as she induces confessions of outrages the audience (or people they know) have committed in return for disclosures of her own.

The things that turn her on (and off), the foibles of social media, and the apparently true comments and offers that come Australian call centre staff’s way all feature in an entertaining hour. But beware: you will sing, you will join hands and you will divulge secrets – you don’t get that chocolate biscuit for nothing.