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Cabaret Chordelia

Friday, 27 August, 2010

Making a Song and Dance

Edinburgh 2010 – Pleasance at Ghillie Dhu – 4-22 August 10 – 16:15pm (1.10)

The Ghillie Dhu feels like the right venue for this piece,  if ever I have to fight off a horde of marauding zombies, if ever I have to shake the dust off a desiccated corpse hide behind it for cover and make my last stand against hordes of the infected, if there is ever an holocaust of poorly defined origin – then it will be in the decayed belly of the Ghillie Dhu that I make my last stand.  Think restrained opulence and you’ll be there – plush and sensual, but air conditioned.  Which is of course the perfect setting for a spot of Cabaret of a sticky festival afternoon, is it not?

As I wait for the show to open music quietly pervades the space, the aura of a gramophone is evoked, I imagine a small boy, flat capped, on his hunkers behind the folding modesty screen at the side of the stage turning a handle, excitedly peeping at the audience.  He reminds me of myself. I used to hunker in the wings at the Pantomime, dodging backstage crew, waiting for my dad to go on as the Dame and feeling excitement pound through the curtain from the audience; I look about at this quiet shadow of that and wonder when I got so old.

The dancers and pianist arrive on stage in an understated manner befitting the venue, Kimberly Lawrie, Kathy Lloyd-Jones and Kirsty Pollock have no need to make a song and dance, their beauty transcends gender and their careful movements bely grace, poise and an unexpected eloquence which speaks to me clearly.  They communicate through movement alone and the lines of communication remain coherent for the duration of the performance.  The pianist  Ian Ryan is accomplished, delights consistently; and surprises occasionally – particularly during his brief Kazoo solo.

Singer for the evening Ian Ryan reminds me of Desperate Dan in drag and his appearance muddies the water somewhat; not, because of any lack of talent – the guy can sing – simply because his arrival affects the stage dynamics. It’s never clear whether attention is supposed to be focused on him or the dancers. This is a minor flaw which, though initially confusing, doesn’t ultimately detract from the show.

Each dance was choreographed beautifully with precise movement and plenty left open for interpretation, providing meat to the bones of what could otherwise be a dull show – this wasn’t really Cabaret, more an analysis of the format.  If you like your cabaret, fulsome, free and life affirming – this isn’t the show for you.  If you prefer a more cerebral dish – you’ll get something out of the quiet sensuality of Cabaret Chordelia in the restrained opulence of Ghillie Dhu.

The only major flaw is that there’s no unfolding story to follow from one number to the next and without this there is not enough variation captivate for long.  By the middle of the show I found myself lost somewhat – uncertain whether I had missed some crucial plot device, and unable to grasp the thread again and frankly wondering when the show was going to end.

By the closing number this beautiful piece grows stale, trapped in a  never changing moment of time, dusty like bottles on the shelves of that imagined Ghillie Dhu where I hide, hoping for the world to turn and wondering what happened to that boy by the gramophone, or the one in the wings.

Cast Credits (Alpha Order): Jonathan Gunthorpe – Singer. Kimberley Lawrie Kally Lloyd-Jones Kirsty Pollock – Dancers. Ian Ryan – Pianist.

Company Credits: Director – Kally Lloyd-Jones.  Choreographer – Kally Lloyd-Jones.  Music Director – Damian Thantrey. Lighting Design – Grahame Gardner. Guest Choreographer – Matt Foster.  Stylist – Tom Rogers.  Music – Coward, Rogers & Hart, Kirsty MacColl, Tom Waits, Charlap & George, Bacharach & David, Billy Joel, Bolcom, Burke, Malneck & Livingston, Van Heusen, Kern, Shire, Weill, Wilcox.  Artistic Director – Kally Lloyd-Jones.  Creative Producer – Kate Craik.  Marketing – Lynsey McFarlane. Press – Wendy Niblock. Graphic Design – Lotta Landelius. Production Photography – Eammon McGoldrick. Board of Directors – John Harding, Anne Munro, Kally Lloyd Jones, Severine Wyper.

(c) Stephen Redman 2010

reviewed Friday 20 August 2010

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