Set at the fictional Celebrity Café, this cabaret features sketches, song, and the baking of mini-cupcakes. The world of the café is peopled by a resident web nerd (who is making a film about getting famous on the internet in which he plays the roles of various YouTube superstars) and the English Singing Baker (who prepares mini-cupcakes in front of us in a cookery-show segment, likening baking to romance through a metaphor of transforming separate ingredients into one.)
Although Casson’s songs do create a sense of its mood, I would like to see more of the café, and perhaps a stronger suggestion of the café’s setting on the stage.
Singer Sue Casson is a seasoned performer and holds it all together as she sings original songs, including a tribute to political journalist Jeremy Paxman, who she describes as the thinking woman’s crumpet. Casson has a great rapport with the audience and a gorgeous voice. The English Singing Baker takes to the flute to accompany Casson in some of these numbers.
The younger performers are at times self-conscious and need a bigger presence on the stage but to be fair, they are still developing and they are not without talent.
I enjoyed the idea of the Celebrity Café, which is, as Casson describes, the sort of place you’d like to find on the street. Although Casson’s songs do create a sense of its mood, I would like to see more of the café and perhaps a stronger suggestion of the café’s setting on the stage. This show would best be performed in a café or cabaret space. At times the different elements of the show – cookery, cyber culture and tribute songs – don’t quite mesh together, and there’s the opportunity for the staging to be developed into something more dynamic.
Although English Cabaret Hour doesn’t quite deliver on the spontaneity it promises, it’s nonetheless as charming as the cupcakes handed out to audience members and is a pleasant way to spend an hour on a drizzly Edinburgh day.