Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Full-on noise from start to finish as we take a sneak peek at what this year’s entries to the Eurovision Song Contest might look and sound like. Well, almost.
The din inside C Chambers Street’s first floor venue could probably be heard on the Royal Mile. Give out free flags, clapper-grips and vuvuzela’s to anyone over the age of five and you are guaranteed to give silence a holiday. Throw in a Euro-disco beat track as the audience makes its way in and you complete the recipe for a show where the place is thumping before the cast has even lacquered its hair and sewn on its sequins.
Full-on from the moment our wonderful Sarajevo host and hostess, complete with cue cards and faltering English, introduced us to our first act, Eurobeat : Almost Eurovision had the audience clapping, singing, blowing vuvuzela’s in support and, had there been room, they’d have been up there dancing along too.
Subtle this wasn’t, but that’s in part what made it so amusing. Almost everyone in Europe has seen or heard of the Eurovision Song Contest and very few are daft enough to take it seriously, either from the quality of music on show or the voting farce that produces what is euphemistically referred to as the winner. The Wellington College cast of six females and five males certainly had their collective tongues-in-cheeks as they produced, at times, an uncanny parody of the contest itself. The clever insertion of English double entendre that innocently catches out so many non-native English speakers, the overly camp boy bands, the stereotypical songs, the failure to hit the high notes and the generally out of step choreography captured all that is amusingly kitsch in Eurovision but without taking the joke beyond the believable.
The UK entry was particularly resonant of so many that have pulled in so few votes over the last ten years, with its cheesy lyrics backed by a tune that had, as did many of the “entries”, the standard two verses, bridge, semi-tone shift up the scale, third verse and big finale. In fact, this number was so good, let’s save hassle and stick it into this year’s real contest.
Sweden’s entry could only be a take-off of Abba, naturally, and the German contribution was, in many ways, one of the most amusing, drawing as it did rather successfully on the music of Kraftwerk, a band well known for their general absence of lyrics. A Russian contribution from the KG Boys, a Hungarian rhapsody with English subtitles and a Greek contribution from the Gods were all well executed and at the end you even got to vote by mobile phone for your favourite little number.
Well costumed, amusingly choreographed and well linked by the host and hostess, this show offers you a care-free romp through an eclectic mix of original music, each song cleverly managing to sound very much the same. Perhaps a bit more attention could be paid to the balance of backing track and singer mike levels – lyrics were lost as the beat sometimes drowned the voice, particularly in the finale. And eighty minutes is a long time to sustain what is, in effect, one obvious, but highly amusing joke. Or was that, in fact, part of the joke. After all, the real Eurovision seems to go on longer than most Wagnerian operas.
But these are minor quibbles. If you’re after a light-hearted show with a chance to make a lot of noise, this is for you. Music lovers might think twice though.