Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs (4 stars)

The celebrated Scottish actor and raconteur brings a triumphant Club Cumming to the EIF

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Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs

credit: Tré

You can take the lad out of Perthshire … Alan Cumming is arguably one of our most successful exports. Tonight, the actor and singer, who is equally at home in America as Edinburgh thanks to his successful recent role as Eli Gold in The Good Wife, transforms the Hub into Club Cumming, his cabaret bar. His no-bullshit radar and charisma is what makes him such an endearing, cheeky presence. 'I like fun, but it needs to be structured', he dead-pans, before launching into a perfectly formed set with cellist Eleanor Norton, and pianist /musical director Lance Horne. His voice is beautiful, folk-inflected and soaring.

When Cumming out-divas the divas (Miley, Katy Perry, Gaga, Adele, even a soupçon of Avril Lavigne) he's like an inversion of Fringe cabaret darling Camille O' Sullivan, who reclaims pop songs by men. His homage to Stephen Sondheim – 'my Grand Theft Sondheim', he quips, referencing the composer's tendency to 'recycle' musical motifs – is strikingly mischievous. There's even a high-stepping campy 50s pastiche written for a condom commercial.

But it's not all uproarious – he talks movingly and candidly of recent family revelations that his father was not who he claimed to be and of how his 'risk-taking' grandfather died. A dedication to his late father on an emotionally taut cover of Rufus Wainwright's 'Dinner at Eight' leaves him visibly tearful, and his stunning version of Michael Marra's 'Mother Glasgow' is as intimate as a diary entry.

Unsurprisingly, for the man who won a Tony for playing the Emcee in Cabaret, it's the dark side which is most seductive. His roaring take on Brecht/Weill's 'How Do Humans Live' is the clear highlight, seeping like a stab wound.

He may be more Viktor and Rolf than Victor and Barry these days – but what a hell of a journey. Glorious, glamorous and wickedly subversive.

The Hub, 473 2000, until 27 Aug (not 14 &15, 22), £30.

Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs

  • 4 stars

A hedonistic late-night cabaret of confessions and personal reinterpretations of songs from the star of stage, TV and film. Cumming's repetoire includes songs by Miley Cyrus, Rufus Wainwright, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. He is joined on stage by his long-time collaborator and musical director Lance Horne on piano and…

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