Saturday 28 December 2013

Fascinating Aïda flaunt the rules

Fascinating Aida - Charm Offensive
Fed up of tinsel and want to forget Christmas shopping or the sales rush? If you need a good solid belly laugh to get you through the post Christmas slump, and you like you humour dry, pithy, satirical, smart, and more than a little bit rude, then Fascinating Aïda’ ‘Charm Offensive’ is for you. 

I went along just before Christmas Eve to see them at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank. Having only seen them on YouTube before (Cheap Flights) I was excited to see them - and they did not disappoint.

Fascinating Aïda are Dillie Keane, Adèle Anderson, and Liza Pulman. Dillie was a founding member of the group in 1983, joined by Adèle in 1984, so setting up a writing partnership which has lasted thirty years. Having been with them for ten years, Liza is the newbie of the group. All three have the strong musical and acting background, which along with their obvious talent and enthusiasm, make for a great show.

Classics such as ‘Cheap Flights’ and ‘Dogging’ were real crowd pleasers, as was the Gilbert and Sullivan-esque ‘OFSTED’, and the gangsta rap ‘Down with the kids’ was ‘totes amazeballs’. My favourite was the Bulgarian song cycle – twelve very funny short snippets, sung in the style of Women's Choir of Sofia, which looked at topics as diverse as Miley Cyrus twerking, the HS2, immigration, and gas prices.

But it was not all fun. Just as the effect of the irreverent language was enhanced by their elegant appearance, their humour was brought into sharp relief by the occasional heart wrenchingly sad song such as ‘Look Mummy no hands’.

Throughout it all the camaraderie and affection between these ladies gave them license to be as acerbic to each other as they were to their subject matter, and their commentaries were as funny as the songs they introduced (including the MC who warned against people taking selfies). It takes real skill to balance cabaret in a concert hall. But after all who else could successfully rhyme ‘Schubert-y’ with puberty?

The show ended with a new song penned for this tour and tried out for the first time the night before – billed as the rudest Christmas song ever. Running until the 10th of January 2014 at the QEH and then continuing around the country through to April ‘Charm offensive’ is definitely a good night out.

Fascinating Aïda has been nominated for the Perrier Award, the Olivier Award (three times) and the New York Drama Desk Award. As well as YouTube appearances they have also produced seven CDs, two videos, and a songbook (in case you want to sing it yourself!).
Reviewed by Hilary Glover

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