Fascinating Aïda salute addition of cabaret section to 2011 Fringe
Edinburgh Fringe cabaret regulars salute recognition of artform
This article is from 2011.
Good God, there’s a cabaret section! I can’t begin to describe the delight that AT LAST, we misfits have been recognised and awarded a category of our own. Fascinating Aïda have been practising what the legendary New York producer Donald Smith calls ‘the fragile art of cabaret’ for nearly three decades whilst being regularly told that the art form was dead. OK, so it wasn’t exactly throbbing with life, but there were a few of us holding a guttering candle against the gale force of stand-up comedy, which occasionally threatened to obliterate us.
So how do you define cabaret? Kit Hesketh-Harvey, another of the redoubtables who refused to lie down and die, defines a cabaret song as a song without a fourth wall. In other words, the singer sings the song straight to the audience as it if were a monologue. But that’s just a part of the picture.
Cabaret is the theatre of the oddball; there must be music, possibly ineptly played or poorly sung (I’ve been hoodwinking audiences into thinking I can sing for aeons) and there must be humour. It’s usually performed by performers too impatient to wait for parts, too angry with the world not to jump up and comment, too quirky to be cast in Midsomer Murders. At best, it’s dark, louche, moving, brave, silly and hilarious.
So I’m thrilled at the rebirth of my beloved art form. After all – what is stand-up comedy but Performer + Observations + Microphone? Sure, there are some dazzling comics out there – but the formula is wretchedly identikit. Select a cabaret show, though, and you have no idea what’s going to hit you.
Fascinating Aïda: Cheap Flights, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 0131 622 6552, 6–29 Aug (not 7 or 17), 6.45pm, £12.50–£14 (£11.50-£13). Previews 3, 5 Aug, £7.