Edinburgh Fringe Review: Cabaret Nova

All dolled up for its adoring public, Cabaret Nova brings us a smorgasbord showcase of the wonderful delicacies it has to offer in its new abode. It was a bit of a hotchpotch for opening night: something along the lines of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

First up was Light Relief – something of a misnomer. A musical duo comprised of an elder gentleman and his much younger assistant, he teetered on the wrong side of sleaze and she didn’t seem to enjoy herself. One song was Bikini Wax Blues, in which he detailed his distaste for going down on his disappointingly hirsute girlfriend and she described how she obligingly got it ‘fixed’ (but now he goes down on her loads. Yay!) ‘Old James Bond’ was a melancholy delight, but it was the single song that didn’t make my skin crawl.

Next up was Street Cries, a ragtag bunch of guys and gals on guitar, banjo – banjo solo! – and accordion. Once again, the mix of much older men to younger women seemed the penchant de jour (or nuit). They sang their anarchic themed songs with energy and a sense of chaos (banjo solo!) Hits include ‘The City Boys’ (banking crisis) and ‘We’re bunking off school’ (general rebellion).

Ladies Live Longer brought a touch of brilliance with selections from their show ‘Ladylike’. (Not. True.) They were a nutty neurotic pair: wonderful to watch, terrible to behold. They brought us ageing bitchy best mates from Essex, pimped up in leopard print and spouting obscenities about each other on the sly. Then, with a chameleon change of costume, they became Yummy Mummies in the midst of an emotional car-crash trying to care for their horrible spawn. It’s the kind of stuff that gets done a lot – but the long living ladies do it with exceptional aplomb.

Last up was Damsel Sophie, showcasing her latest offering, Hot, which is preoccupied with the shadows of a past glory now impossible to replicate (“I’ll find something like you,” she sings, heartbreakingly, to last year’s award, a la Adele). The lovely diva takes to the stage in sequined dress with top hat on head and megaphone in hand. “This is not cabaret,” she announces, glumly. She looks kinda sad. She shouldn’t be – she’s got a cracking voice.

It was a peculiar night, but not without flair. The second half redeemed the patchiness of the first half. Showcases in any case are a hit and miss business – with so much on offer at Nova across the course of the Fringe, these ‘sample’ nights will no doubt continue to throw up much that is wacky weird and wonderful in equal part.

**** – 4 Stars

Cabaret Nova is playing at C nova at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 27 August. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.