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Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The Five-Thirty Cabaret at the Famous Spiegeltent


Genre: Cabaret

Venue: Famous Spiegeltent


Low Down

Hosted (on this occasion) by the incomparable Johnny Woo, this was an hour of cabaret, burlesque, illusion and the downright outrageous to brighten even the wettest of Edinburgh Sundays.


There’s nothing like a dreicht Edinburgh Sunday for driving the masses indoors in search of somewhere dry, warm and comforting where they can maybe doze gently through a show. But there’s not a chance of nodding off during this hurly-burly hour of cabaret from a selection of the many artistes plying the genre at this year’s Fringe. 

Even a couple of years ago you might have struggled to find enough quality acts to put together this sort of “best of” hour. But such has been the recent explosion of talent in this area that the Spiegeltent is able to play host to a rich variety of acts each night, right through the Fringe three weeks.
Hosted by Miss Mary Portas, one of the many alter-egos of the incomparable cabaret and drag queen artist Johnny Woo, we got off to a cracking start with “her” well-drilled rap on life, the world and the universe. And all this whilst manoeuvring around dexterously on a pair of four-inch red heels. Not bad for someone who must be well over six-foot in their stocking feet.
With a nice line in patter and an unerring eye for those gullible enough to sit in the front row, our host used her considerable charms to link a variety of high class acts together. It was a nicely balanced mix, with Quin Fortuna (complete with medallions dangling from interesting places) delivering a deliciously kitsch 1980’s disco tune on a loop that would never end, The Hustle impressing with a nicely choreographed dance routine and Frank Sinazi who took an interesting slant on Hitler’s antics through staples like “That’s Life” and a line in patter and jokes that were both near the knuckle and, occasionally, beautifully corny.
But the show was stolen by those time travellers, illusionists and all-round jolly good chaps, Morgan and West. With their trade mark vaudeville, music hall style, they use distraction and witty badinage as their stock in trade, allowing them to deliver illusions of a sublime level. Pick a card, sir, any card and just watch them move it, slide it, twist it, turn it and then present it back to you from somewhere you would have thought it impossible to conceal such an item. And they’ve added mime and melodrama to their routine in the couple of years since I last reviewed them. All I will say is that a toy dog balloon led to one of the most amazing illusions I have seen in a long time – worth the admission money alone.
With mein host leading yet another gullible soul onto the stage for a finale experience he’s never likely to forget (especially since his dearly beloved filmed the whole episode on one of these marvellous little things called a smartphone, darling), the show finished with a bang and we were sent tumbling from the bright and cheerful out into the dull and dismal. The nature of “best of” shows is such that there will be different acts (and possibly comperes) each night. 
For rating purposes this needs to be held at “Recommended”, simply because the acts will differ each night but on the basis of what I saw, I would highly recommend you give it a go. Just don’t sit in the front row and don’t catch the eye of the MC. You’ve been warned!