Fringe Music

Choir of Man,

Assembly Rooms

four stars

Anya Anastasia: Rogue Romantic

Assembly Checkpoint

three stars

Rachel Tucker: Unplugged, Pleasance

five stars

Marianne Gunn

It is not surprising that Choir of Man comes from the producers of crowd-pleasing Stomp, as it shares many clever performing tricks such as syncopated plastic beer glass smashing instead of the famed bin lids. Where Choir of Man differs is that the nine-strong cast can really sing - as well as dance - whether solo or in part harmony, to such a degree that they received a standing ovation on what was only their fifth show together.

As all the male members of the "choir" have their own persona and back story, it can be a little "manufactured" at times, although it is aiming for the kind of banter you might encounter in a good old-fashioned pub. Songs include some rock and pop numbers (such as Guns 'n' Roses' Welcome to the Jungle and Adele's Hello) as well as more chart-topping and upbeat tunes from the likes of Avicii, Sia and Katy Perry. The two stand-out numbers were Upside Down (featuring impressive head balancing) and Escape (the Pina Colada song). While the song behind the urinal was not to my taste, it did add a certain element of Fringe cabaret and, ahem, toilet humour. Throughout the show, some audience participation is required as free beer is on tap and given out - it would be rude not to. This choir knows its crowd.

Runs to August 27

Also on the Fringe cabaret circuit is Anya Anastasia in Rogue Romantic. With a backing band of three, she sings her original songs from behind her grand piano, getting up to share her quick-witted putdowns. Physical feats such as suggestive handstands on audience members and gaffer-taped-ankle-maracas-playing mean she is likely to benefit from a livelier crowd as her run builds and her act grows and develops.

Audience interaction was a bit reticent during Armageddon-Laid but as she revealed details of her perfect man she managed to build more of a rapport. With the comic delivery of Dame Edna Everage (darrrling), the Adelaide-born chanteuse has her charming and humorous moments but musically the songs are sadly not that memorable.

Runs to August 27

For two nights only, Rachel Tucker performed musical theatre hits from her new album to a savvy crowd. A late addition to the programme meant there were a few empty seats for the I'd Do Anything contestant who made it big on Broadway. "Did I tell you I was in Wicked?" she quipped, for the third time, in her delightful Northern Irish accent much to the audience's amusement. She did not disappoint when she finally sang Defying Gravity but it is her playfulness and storytelling, as well as that voice, that captivate.

Although the whole show was a little hand-knitted and under-rehearsed in the space, under the direction of her husband Guy Retallack she was clearly wholly at ease. Candy Man saw her throwing sweeties to the crowd, while Where is Love was a nod to her breakthrough career moment. A Tina Turner medley and rendition of a poignant song from Waitress were only outdone by her encore performance of Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - a very apt ending from an awe-inspiring Elphaba.

Run ended