Kit Hesketh-Harvey and James McConnel

The Edinburgh Academy makes for a spacious yet slightly odd choice of venue for music and comedy due Kit Hesketh-Harvey and James McConnel. BBC Radio 4 stalwart Hesketh-Harvey explained amicably that due to their, and therefore their audience’s advancing years, the flat approach ending in a slight downward slope made for an easy and swift entry (ooh errr) into the performance space. And so the show took off on Pegasus wings; an exhilarating flight of wit, timing, musicality, pathos and breathtaking comedic skill that belied the classical depths of their award-splattered careers thus far. I could barely write for laughing most of the time and the rest of the audience echoed.

Their current show pays homage to Coward, Weil, Abba, Schöberg, Sondheim and Frank Farian (composer of the Boney M. hit ‘Rasputin’. Thank you Google) as well as more than a saucy nod and wink to the legendary Hinge and Bracket. Each cabaret style was perfectly parodied, slick and well-timed throughout with gigglesome quips such as “We’re more M&S than S&M” during a song about a middle aged man’s complaints about his wife’s discovery of the Fifty Shades of Grey books. There’s songs about Nigella using her errant husband’s art collection in a culinary way; a critique of Russell Crowe’s singing in ‘Les Mis’; the macho persona of Vladimir Putin; Pippa Middleton; hypochondria; conspiracy theories; text message autocorrect, and the sad demise of 1970’s TV presenters. It is a veritable musical feast of the events of the last year. More poignant were the two ballads, one about a lost love in Florence and the other a touching tribute to the late Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, beautifully sung by Hesketh-Harvey and it is simply magical how he can switch from camp comedy to seriously heartbreaking within moments.

One audience member was chosen to play the Liszt game, where her name was worked out with musical notes and then the musical phrase derived from the notes turned into a mini concerto by McConnel. I have never heard this done before and it is quite the most spectacular form of improvisation - McConnel was flawless.

An hour with this magnificent pair and I feel it ought to be compulsory for young cabaret entertainers to come and study how it should be done since it feels like a masterclass. Hesketh-Harvey and McConnel pitched it exactly right for their audience, there was enough interaction both between the two performers and between the performers and audience, the songs were incredibly well crafted and professionally delivered and the whole show was paced with just the right mixture of fast/slow and funny/serious. They make it look so easy.

Reviews by Sarah McIntosh

Edinburgh Playhouse

Funny Girl

★★★★
Festival Theatre Edinburgh

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story

★★★★
King's Theatre

TOM, the Musical

★★★★
Festival Theatre Edinburgh

James III: The True Mirror

★★★★
Festival Theatre Edinburgh

James II: Day of the Innocents

★★★
Festival Theatre Edinburgh

James I: The Key Will Keep The Lock

★★★★

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

Performances

The Blurb

Kit Hesketh-Harvey and James McConnel return with their unique brand of sophisticated humour. New songs, (new shoes by Primark). 'Catch this splendid show' (Evening Standard). Call the Fringe Box Office or 07899 912081 for tickets.

Most Popular See More

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £42.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets