Edinburgh Fringe 2016
“Original and dramatic, with songs and stories by characters ranging from a discontented angel to a vampire, depicting the trials and tribulations of modern life. You will laugh, you might cry!”
An hour of late evening musical storytelling is in the hands of the hugely talented Nigel Osner, who offers us an evening of storytelling that is all too human but unafraid to don angels’ wings or take us into the heart of the London Vampires’ Meetup group.
Angel to Vampire is a solo cabaret in silver goth shadow and the self-generated light of the performer’s accessible charisma. This is a gentle autobiography, strong and powerful for that very gentleness. Though the venue feels too traditional for this cabaret format, Nigel Osner succeeds in welcoming us into his world, his story, told through original songs (accompanied by a recorded original piano score), poems, vignettes and a story that spans his life, invoked through some often painfully funny character acting. We forget the room and find ourselves in a cabaret performance space, all down to his personal skills.
There’s pain and sadness in the narrative, but also plenty of self-insight and comedic moments. This is the journey of a civil servant towards realising his truer ambition. Along the way we meet characters who wouldn’t look out of place in one of Michael Moorcock’s ‘London’ novels. Osner sings with guts and panache, drawing upon Blues, Dietrich and post-war styles. Blues meets Noel Coward through clever, often cutting lyrics and his poetry ranges from the comedic wit of Coward to conversational poetic storytelling. We laughed, even as we were gently prodded with another wry observation on life.
No microphones are a big boon in this intimate show. Osner sings from acoustic, natural authenticity. A love of costume, of dressing up and applying the lippy is all part of a story of ultimate self-acceptance, a self-acceptance that accompanies our stepping towards and through middle age. Can we find peace with ourselves? Perhaps only through a journey of painful self-discovery.
The performer holds attention throughout. A personal favourite song was “Don’t Label Me”, but. in truth, all the songs were finely crafted and heartfully delivered. The man can sing! This is an evening of solo cabaret variety, mature and engaging. It’s excellent work. A multi-skilled performer, Nigel Osner brings down the fourth-wall without creating forced or clunky interaction. This is an invitation to gather around, to witness, listen, empathise and enjoy. This is his life, it is also a life, which is an offer to connect it with our own life. Ultimately , do not collude with yourself; follow what you really want, to give yourself permission to like yourself and wear whatever costumes enliven and lift you.
There’s an infectious sentimentality running like a gossamer thread through the show realised through the portfolio of well realised characters. The soft light of the cabaret, the eerie light of uncertainty and feeling lost, and ultimately the brighter light that puts us in the centre of things, in which we are both the star under the spotlight and the applauding, approving audience.
The far too-small audience loved every minute of this generous hour, and I’m more than happy to rate this unique show as a Hidden Gem. It’s a crime that every seat isn’t filled. Go and delight in Angel to Vampire!