Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Songs for Cynics
Roulston and Young – Festival Highlights
Venue: Counting House
The supremely talented Sarah-Louise Young (her of Cabaret Whore fame) with a fifty minute set of very well-constructed, witty yet thought-provoking songs, exploring the cynicism that can develop as relationships age.
I’m something of a cynic when it comes to free shows. They must be free for a reason, right? But I love cabaret so I was lured into giving Songs for Cynics the once over. Positioning myself by the door in case a quick exit was necessary, I prepared myself for what my cynical mind assumed would be some rather eclectic entertainment.
But just how wrong can an aspiring cynic be? Turns out that it’s the supremely talented Sarah-Louise Young (her of Cabaret Whore fame) who is fronting a fifty minute set of very well-constructed, witty yet thought-provoking songs, exploring the cynicism that can develop as relationships age.
We started with a nod in the direction one of Young’s many alter-egos, Cabaret Whore, and moved swiftly onto a musical discussion about the pre-conditions that increasingly pervade older relationships. We then explored that wonderful cliché ‘I’m fine’, a euphemism used to cover so much of life’s suppressed frustration. A trip down memory lane to a Bognor B&B somewhere in the 1950’s explored just how bored people in relationships can look at breakfast (come on, we’ve all been there) and there was much suppressed giggling during a number about how ugly other people’s babies can sometimes appear to those (like Young) who have chosen (to date) not to extend their dynastic line. We finished up with a gentle exploration of how meeting a partner’s parents can sometimes lead to strange feelings and topped things off with a very witty encore entitled quite simply ‘Encore’.
They’re a nice double act, with Michael Roulston’s sympathetic accompaniment and backing vocals allowing Young to show off that striking voice of hers and to slip deftly in and out of a number of the cabaret characters for which she is becoming increasing well known and regarded.
Linking the songs was a stream of seemingly casual badinage but, like a lot of good throw-away lines, they had all been clearly thought through and rehearsed. Young and Roulston have the gift of appearing like an old married couple, bickering gently, getting things done despite each other yet touchingly finishing each other’s sentences.
A lot of thought had gone into the lyrics – alliteration, double entendre, clever word-play – and with Young’s diction being nigh-on perfect, we lost nothing in a venue that doesn’t sport the best acoustics in Edinburgh.
So much for cynicism then, and mine in particular. I went in with trepidation and exited with a spring in my step having been royally entertained by this polished duet. So much so that I chucked my tenner into the collection bucket to get a copy of the CD on offer. Given that cynics don’t often part with tenners, that tells you how highly I am recommending this show.