Cabarets are, by their very nature, fluid and changeable beasts, especially those in Edinburgh which act as convenient samplers of what’s available elsewhere on the Fringe. They also come with a certain risk, of course; the potential to be somewhat piecemeal affairs, especially if they lack an entertaining and sympathetic host to hold it all together. Thankfully, Magic Faraway Cabaret has, in the personable form of ‘Dave the Bear’, a master of ceremonies who is as skilled at working the crowd with words as he is thrusting his posterior out for a spanking during his own bearlesque routine.
On its opening night, Magic Faraway Cabaret was essentially about two worlds crashing together; that of Burlesque and song. First on was the doe-eyed Velma Von Bon Bon who, channelling Scooby Doo’s non-blond, was then transformed by a mysterious drink into a bottom-flashing, booty-shaking explosion of red and black leather. She was followed by the self-described, ‘old-fashioned gay’ Mister Meredith, whose self-penned lyrical celebration of having sex with as many men as possible is perhaps best summarized by ‘anyone will do’.
Next up was the stylish, evening-dress sophistication of Bouncy Hunter, whose graceful burlesque perfectly complemented an often overlooked musical number, ‘Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets’. Says it all, you could say.
The focus of the evening then returned to music. First was Claire Benjamin entertaining the crowd with her ‘Noel Coward meets Pussycat Dolls and Village People’ routine; somehow, that song about the Young Men’s Christian Association will never be quite the same again — proof of something rather special. In contrast there were the short, snappy songs of geek-boy Owen Niblock, whose musical jokes invariably raised a laugh or three.
The pendulum then swung back to burlesque, with Dave the Bear returning to the stage for a frightening (well, at least to one young guy in the audience) rendition of ‘Why don't you do right?’ — an old song made famous, he admitted, by a certain Jessica Rabbit. However, even that alluring cinematic femme fatale would have been overlooked once the striking jungle woman Diva Hollywood stepped on stage, which she dominated to a soundtrack of Richard Strauss (Also Sprach Zarathustra; you know, the opening to 2001: a Space Odyssey) and the Troggs’ ‘Wild Thing’.
All in all, the Magic Faraway Cabaret provided a lively assortment of entertainment for an appreciative crowd. Judging by the range of talent on its 2012 debut, this is definitely a show to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.