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Guest tips: Choices galore on the cabaret Fringe

By | Published on Sunday 27 July 2014

The cabaret strand of the Edinburgh Fringe has grown hugely in recent years, with a plethora of exciting shows and acts taking to the stage each year. One of our all-time favourite performers in the cabaret Fringe – and someone who played a key role in establishing a stand-alone cabaret community at the Festival – is Sarah-Louise Young. Indeed so much is she a favourite of ours, in 2010 we gave her a ThreeWeeks Editors’ Award.


Although not performing her famous ‘Cabaret Whore’ show this year, there are plenty of chances to see Sarah-Louise. She is in ‘Night Bus’ at the Pleasance Courtyard each lunchtime starring opposite Linda Marlowe, and is also in ‘Showstopper! The Improvised Musical’ at Gilded Balloon. And not only that, but she’s directed ‘Lynn Ruth Miller: Not Dead Yet’ and ‘Nicky Gainer’s Empty Nest’. Yet, in amongst preparing for all of that, she took time out to help you guide this year’s cabaret programme…

The cabaret scene has really grown over the past few years and since the addition of a specific section in the Fringe guide, it’s even easier to find what you are looking for. I’ve been coming to the Festival for eighteen years and am still excited to see what is on offer. It’s really hard to pick my top five with so many fantastic artists, from homegrown talents like East End Cabaret and Lady Carol, to much loved foreign imports Lady Rizo and Amy G. If you’re really stuck then there are plenty of great variety nights too, like ‘Vive Le Cabaret’, Lili La Scala’s ‘Another F*cking Variety Show’ and Ali McGregor’s ‘Late Nite Variety Night Nite’. But in the meantime, here’s five of the best, in no particular order:

In Vogue: Songs By Madonna
Back after last year’s success, Australian Michael Griffiths leads us on a journey through Madonna’s songs and career. This isn’t a tribute show or an impersonation: it’s clever and funny and invites you to question your own relationship with the star, whilst delivering all the hits you would expect. If we ask him nicely, hopefully next year he will bring over his Annie Lennox cabaret.
Assembly Checkpoint, from 31 Jul until 25 Aug. Tickets here.

Tina T’urner Tea Lady
Ms Tea Lady won Best Newcomer at this year’s London Cabaret Awards, and I am really looking forward to seeing the full length show. Described as ‘Mrs Overall meets Beyonce’, this is great character comedy and songs, and is part of the La Favorita Freestival, so you can try before you buy. There are now three different free show strands and they are all worth a look, with some fantastic new and established acts choosing to bring their work straight to the people without having to sell off body parts to afford it.
Cowgatehead, from 1 Aug until 24 Aug. Tickets here.

Lynn Ruth Miller: Not Dead Yet
Okay, this is a bit cheeky of me as I have directed this show and written original songs for it with Michael Roulston, but as last year’s TO&ST Award winner, she deserves a mention. This inspiring 80 year old, who took up performing at the age of 71, leads us through the ups and downs of a life well-lived and the meals which kept her going in between. It’s a much more personal story-telling show than last year’s hit which ran for two sold out weeks at the Soho Theatre, but fans of the diaper throwing diva will not be disappointed: it still has her trademark wit and wisdom.
C nova, from 30 Jul until 25 Aug. Tickets here.

Christeene: The Christeene Machine
I will be honest with you: I have not seen Christeene on stage yet, but I have seen a lot online and of all the acts at the Fringe this year, this is the show most people have told me to catch. So in the spirit of the Fringe to try something new, I am including this ‘gender-bending, booty-pounding, queer perversion of punk dragged through a musical theatre gutter’. How can I be disappointed?
Underbelly Cowgate, from 31 Jul until 23 Aug. Tickets here.

Fascinating Aida: Charm Offensive
No Edinburgh hit list would be complete without these three funny, fabulous ladies. With thirty years experience of writing and performing comic songs and sketches, their material is still fresh and on the nose. Expect old favourites and new hits…not for the faint hearted!
Underbelly, Bristo Square, from 31 Jul until 25 Aug. Tickets here.

LINKS: www.sarah-louise-young.com

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