Entertaining routines from Fringe veterans gone vaudeville… and sinister
Les Enfants Terribles have established themselves, over fifteen years, as a strong bet for Fringe fun: despite the apparently dark murder mystery plot, this musical draws on cabaret for a series of short, sharp routines that evoke the glory days of the musical.
The individual routines vary in quality from satisfactory to great. The mime sequence is charming, the tale of the knife thrower hilarious until it descends into tragedy. Unfortunately, the overall narrative is a little slim, serving to hold the action together without driving the performances. The cast show remarkable skill in a variety of disciplines, even playing instruments against a backing track: it's a shame that the musical numbers aren't more distinctive, with the exception of the magician's love song.
Yet the purpose of the show is clear – entertainment – and the ensemble have a distinctive dynamism. The measured pace of the routines, which reveal the backstories of the characters while providing examples of striptease, mime, magic tricks and (deliberately bad) ventriloquism, makes the plot feel like an afterthought. However, even though the songs lack enough identity to make this a memorable musical, Les Enfants Terribles demonstrate their sure popular touch and restless dramaturgy.
Assembly George Square Gardens, until 28 Aug (not 16), 10.10pm, £14–£16 (£12.50–£14.50).