Cabaret Nova

Showcasing the best Cabaret of the Fringe – so states the publicity – Cabaret Nova offers 20 minute titbits of full shows running across a range of venues. Presently only acts from C itself are on the bill, but watch this space as the festival progresses and C accumulates a greater range of talent. As things stand, however, Cabaret Nova does not possess the ‘best of’ it boasts.

Light Relief, the opening act, did exactly what it said on the tin. They are a musical comedy duo who delivered amusing but far from hysterical jokes, the funniest of which arose from well-constructed puns. The songs themselves were paced well with strong punchline timing but lacked the originality of similar acts like Flight Of The Conchords. Fine for a short show, but any longer and it would have started to drag.

C venues' very own Paul, both performing and working there, stepped up next for his stand-up routine. Immediately he felt engaging in the small venue, but his rapport with the audience quickly deteriorated after failing to follow through with participation elements. Audience members are pulled up to perform surreal stunts: not inherently hilarious, though Paul seemed to think this to be sufficient as he did not engage with his participants or the audience throughout the bizarre antics. Veering wildly from this, the latter half gave way to average anecdotal comedy, losing the unique – though flawed – edge of the former.

For the drunk and the rowdy, Street Cries is a high energy band involving leaping around, shouting and banjo solos. Their comedy lyrics were not the best observed of the night, and most jokes were lost among the mad physicality. They were clearly having fun, though, and their energy was highly infectious. I seriously wanted to dance with them on stage. That being said, the nature of this act is best suited to those who have already been on the town, otherwise a full show would be exhausting.

Lady Like is a difficult act to pin down. Not quite sketches, not quite musical comedy, this duo cleverly blends character and musical elements to create an experience that is quite apart from most. Though often funny, the jokes became tiresome since their entire segment could be loosely defined as ‘mummy humour’ – how tough child-rearing is, for instance. Not a mother myself, I often felt lost. The sketch elements also tended to be stronger than the songs, as it became difficult for the performers to interact with the audience which is where they got their best reception.

They really did save the best for last. Hot was a shining beacon of creativity and originality, and definitely deserves to be hailed as the act of the night. A one-woman act, Damsel Sophie has spot-on offbeat timing and a captivating presence on stage. Her attention to detail is phenomenal, with every hand gesture pre-planned for comic effect. Out of all the acts I had seen, this would be the only one I would happily pay to see in its entirety.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

New nightly speakeasy at Edinburgh's most talked about new venue. The Hep Cats come out at night! Jazz, burlesque, speciality acts from across the Fringe, followed by retro mix DJ to bring out your inner rug cutter. www.cabaretnova.com.

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