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Edinburgh Fringe 2020

Love, Loss and Quarantine

The Swells

Genre: Cabaret, Music

Venue: fringe online


Low Down

A charming narration of losing and gaining partners in these unusual times, beautifully performed by three talented musicians



Singer Malcolm Windsor, guitarist Nick Gent, and Musical Director/pianist Jeremy Devlin-Thorp, collectively known as The Swells, bring us a follow up to last year’s successful Fringe show about love.  But this year’s production offers a new perspective on romance. Two of the musicians recently lost their partners . This new show is a musical journey about new-found love during lockdown following the pain of personal bereavement.  “It was horrible, the pangs of loss, and quarantine intervened”, as introduced by Windsor.

The three tuxedo-clad musicians deliver the story, nicely shot in a parking pad. It is the tale of these two widowers meeting new people but under quarantine, with all of the social restrictions, as told by Windsor. Through the narration we come to understand their complex challenges of balancing their feelings for the ones they lost with their interest in creating a new life.

The musical portion begins with a song about being lonely, “When Your Lover Has Gone”, made famous by Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra.   The 1931 piece was featured in the James Cagney film “Blonde Crazy” and has become a jazz standard. They handily capture the essence of the piece.

In “Close Enough For Love”, Windsor sings about the first meeting in a relationship. Where does friendship end and a love relationship start?  This familiar tune has been performed by many prominent jazz singers, including Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Peggy Lee and Dianne Reeves. It was the theme song from the 1979 film “Agatha”, starring Dustin Hoffman and Vanessa Redgrave. The Swells give it a simple yet effective treatment.

The performance ends on a very upbeat note, as they have come through quarantine and are in a happier stage.  The final song, “You Make Me Feel So Young”, celebrates freedom from restrictions and encourages us to make time to have fun.  That tune was most recently sung by Michael Buble but is best known by the version from Frank Sinatra.

All three of The Swells are accomplished musicians who have mastered the smooth jazz styles of icons like Sinatra and Bennett.  Windsor’s subtle but effective vocal inflections work well with the very tasty solos from the two instrumentalists. The delivery is not complicated or fancy but well-placed.

The show is a very pleasant 17 minutes and well worth the time.  How does one recover from loss and begin to live again during months of solitary confinement as a result of COVID- 19? Watch the show to gain their perspectives.