Fringe Music and Cabaret

One Woman, One Cello and 500 Years of Music,

Greenside @ Nicolson Square, four stars

Big Man, Little Instruments,

C Royale, two stars

To its One Woman, One Cello and 500 Years of Music title Johanna Stein might add “plus thousands of miles” to descriptions of her show. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduate from Cologne does indeed go back 500 years, singing a serenading madrigal that attempts to get the audience singing along, before coming closer to 2018 with DJ Fink’s Berlin Sunrise.

She also visits both coasts of the U.S., producing a grooving, pizzicato bass line for Blood Sweat & Tears’ Spinning Wheel and admirably strumming, plucking, hammering on and bowing her way through the complexities of the Turtle Island Quartet’s Julie-O.

Stein is an easy communicator who gives entertaining introductions as she moves between flamenco classic, Scottish folk song and Mongolian lament with technical assurance, soulful melodiousness and a big, charging tone where appropriate. She even includes some throat-singing to add to the plaintiveness of the Mongolian song. An intimate, close-up and inclusive show, it runs until Saturday.

Possibly too intimate for some – there were quite a few escapees – Joshua Kernich’s story of his own escape from a staunchly Christian family incorporates religious and sexual health videos, spoken word and songs sung confidently to ukulele and keyboard accompaniment. It has its moments of humour, including a typically Australian selection of libido failure euphemisms. But heavy on self-awareness and light on lyrical depth, it’s in danger of becoming the sort of Fringe show that people recommend out of devilment and the best moment comes when Kernich steps off-mic and thanks his audience with disarming self-deprecation. Ends Monday.