Edinburgh Fringe 2017
A “best of” hour featuring a selection of the biggest and best on the Fringe cabaret circuit for 2017.
The eponymous 5.30 Cabaret does just what it says on the ticket – shoves an hour of full-on, fast-paced cabaret in your face using a selection of the biggest and best from the cabaret and comedy genres at this year’s Fringe.
As with any compilation show, the guest artists and MC will likely be different each day. So it’s a real case of “pay your money and take pot luck”. But it’s a great way to sample four or five acts in the hope of picking out one or more to follow up and see in full.
MC Bruce Devlin is certainly one stand-up / cabaret diva I’d pay good money to hear a lot more of. Anyone who introduces himself as a “great, bearded, bare homo” is rather setting himself up for an audience riposte but dealing with this is clearly his forte. The front row at the busy New Town Theatre certainly got well worked over. Devlin’s acidic wit, sharp patter and quick thinking was right out of the top drawer in terms of working an audience. Throw-away lines came thick and fast, Kirkintilloch and Rochdale got a real battering (and why not) but there was enough self-deprecation in there to leave you wanting more from this class act.
The acts that followed struggled to maintain the momentum Devlin had created, as musical comedy, some spoken word, a bit of burlesque and a bit of stand-up comedy paraded across the stage for our edification. Some of it worked but some didn’t. That, I guess, is where the pot luck element of these “best of” shows comes into play.
But what was becoming a rather soggy hour was rescued by a bit more Devlin and a thrilling finale from Chris Cross, prestidigitator extraordinaire. Fresh, funny and fast, his dexterity with a deck of cards was worth the journey alone. Ironic, then, that’s he not actually got a show running this year and had just popped up for a couple of days from his Newcastle base to do a few of these “best of” hours. Look out for this guy though, as he’s got the lot, patter, innuendo, double entendre, sleight of hand and a “cheeky chappie” approach that will win over almost anyone.
There’s a danger in giving shows like this a “recommended” grading, but there were more good acts than not on display the day I went and I will definitely be seeking out one or two of them for another helping. If you’re happy to play this game of chance, invest some loot and go along.