Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age (4 stars)

Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age

Picture: Jess Shurte

Edinburgh International Festival comes to a fabulous close with Alan Cumming displaying his love of show tunes while considering the relentless march of time

Attending an Alan Cumming show is like catching up with an old friend, in a one-way street kind of way. It's been a while since we've seen him, and he's got plenty of stories to share. But since very few of us have been anywhere or done anything for 18 months – including Cumming – most of the tales have been mined from his (very rich) back catalogue.

Since the subject du jour is ageing and death, he fondly recalls some lost pals: co-hosting a birthday party in 2018 with the late Florence Henderson (the Brady Bunch mum), a woman with abs of steel and a never-ending supply of vodka; being called 'son' by Sean Connery who later leaves him a phone message saying 'goodnight sweet prince'; and taking his beloved dog Honey for his last visit to the vet (if you get my drift) all made their mark on him.

Cumming drops celebrity names like most of us drop crumbs, but not once does it sound like boasting or glamorising. Perhaps that's because he too seems amazed that Paul McCartney, Emma Stone and Billie Jean King all pitched up at his New York club one night in 2017. Or maybe it's because he peppers his show with references to the fact he's on home turf, recalling the view through his childhood window in Perthshire and reaffirming his desire for Scottish independence.

Then again, it could be the songs: winners one and all, drawn from stage, screen and even his own imagination (an on-the-money self-penned attack on the desire to stay forever young via the surgeon's knife). From Barbra Streisand's 'Everything' from A Star Is Born, to a Disney mash-up from Moana, The Little Mermaid and Frozen, Cumming knows his audience and plays to it. Sadly for those of us who loved his turn as the just-realised-he's-gay mayor in new series Schmigadoon!, there are no anecdotes or songs from that experience. To paraphrase Liza Minnelli, maybe next time (and yes, he did sing that).

Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age was at Old College Quad, Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 August.