Hat Fitz & Cara

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Rob Adams

four stars

PITCHED somewhere between a test case for Relate and a Southern Baptist church service, the in-person experience of Hat Fitz and Cara is nothing if not entertaining. With Fitzy, as his spouse refers to him, acting the pantomime – or maybe not – version of the “brace yerself, Sheila” stereotypical Australian male, we seem to be constantly on the verge of a domestic. Until the music intervenes.

It’s a wonder Cara doesn’t get cramp in her eyebrows as she makes yet another long-suffering gesture but then Fitzy will trade his gruff, bellicose bluesman’s growl for the most delicate slide guitar moan, as he sings of being a pen-pal daddy missing his daughter’s birthday, and all is forgiven.

There’s quite a cast of characters in the duo’s songs, with two in similar situations producing contrasting results. The Tank Man of the Hinterland, whose homeless hero attaches himself to Fitzy’s band and causes mirth, shock and awe, is a bluesy, locomotive guitar romp while Cara’s Rosie Hackett frames a Dublin beggar’s tale in a soulful, slow burning hymn that Bonnie Raitt might covet.

If Fitzy is mostly incorrigible, Cara is the healer, a singer who would have been an asset to Ireland’s A Woman’s Heart troupe. She is quite the choir mistress as she cajoles the audience into singing gospel harmonies from behind the drum kit, or stokes another chorus with her formidable washboard momentum. There’s even a fife and drum interlude as Fitzy trades guitar for kit and Cara marches to and fro, playing a hand-made fife literally from her native heath and calling up soulful spirits in the process. File under "never a dull moment".