Fringe Music & Cabaret




Puddles Pity Party

Assembly George Square


K’Rd Strip: A Place to Stand

Assembly Roxy


Rob Adams

If you can divine exactly where Siegfried Tieber arranges to meet his audience after his show just from reading this review, then you might not be as impressed as the mere mortals who leave Spotlites wondering if they really did witness what they’ve just experienced.

Tieber is so keen to show his magic powers that he gathers his audience around him outside the studio theatre, pointing to strict rules about not starting before the stated time while performing something with a pack of cards that’s surely impossible.

Once inside, more impossibilities occur: the nine of spades that turns into the nine of clubs before our eyes by being shaken like jazz hands; the pack of cards that all suddenly have black crosses over their values except for the one someone chose from the same, apparently regular pack minutes before; and the cards folded into a pack upside down that correspond to the numbers on a lottery ticket when the pack’s turned over.

There may be some logical explanation for these and Tieber’s ability to decipher the words other members of audience chose from a book by reading their minds. If so, we were all duped but Tieber is such a charmingly plausible host and his Magiko show so spellbinding that I would – the ultimate Fringe show endorsement – go back and see him in October.

Looking like a cross between Pierrot and a polar bear, Puddles emerges into the Bosco Theatre struggling backwards through the curtain and quickly dominates the room. This, one immediately feels, is not going to be a victimless cabaret. And it’s not. No seat is safe. If Puddles wants to involve you, you’re involved. You might be serenaded, acquire false breasts or a chili pepper suit. He’ll sing Happy Birthday to You to you. Or he’ll have you playing air guitar or singing backing vocals.

What he won’t do is say much. This is a master of persuasion by gesture. He’s also quite a singer, delivering show songs and karaoke favourites to backing tracks of his own devising. Thus Dancing Queen has a certain unAbba-like menace and My Heart Will Go On rocks out in a way that wasn’t invented when the Titanic went down.

With mirthful use of back projections and inescapable singalongs, ultimately it’s great fun, a good natured pantomime with a big lovable and cuddly clown, although at least one audience member gets something more lingering than a cuddle (and a mimed promise of a phone call later) and you might not want to chew gum for a while – or ever - afterwards.

Lorde’s hit song Royals features in both Puddles Pity Party and K’Rd Strip but apart from undeniable skill, that’s about all the two shows have in common. K’Rd Strip is a bit of a jumble, or even a jungle, where superb singing and fabulous choreography mingle with humour and graphic scenes of prostitution, intravenous drug taking and homoerotic violence.

The music, featuring both a cappella vocals and original backing tracks, is excellent and the six-strong cast work in both harmonious ensembles and powerfully depicted solo pieces, although some of the jokes including the chicken clucking gag – except cluck isn’t quite the word – take a JCB to crack a nut and the “Horsey” character rather overstays his welcome. Not for the squeamish or faint-hearted but there is genuine art, and not just the seemingly mandatory body art, on display.

All shows end today [Monday].