Now enjoying its third year in Edinburgh, the Magic Faraway Cabaret has a reputation for presenting the best burlesque, variety and sideshow skills available in the Scottish capital. By its very nature, it's a fluid, changeable beast, dependent on who's free on the night, but it's a welcome opportunity for audiences to sample a number of the acts performing elsewhere at Fringe.
The one 'still' point of Magic Faraway Cabaret is, of course, the personable form of Dave the Bear, a master of ceremonies who is as skilled at working the crowd with words as he is at provocatively peeling off a glove with his teeth. Along with sound-man and self-described 'old-fashioned gay' Mister Meredith, they are the naughty-but-nice heart of this particular cabaret.
Not that there's really such a thing but (for the sake of argument), a 'typical' Magic Faraway Cabaret begins with a sexy song by Dave the Bear and then a programme alternating between burlesque and musical/variety performers. On the particular evening for this review, the burlesque performers gave a good indication of this art form's range: Eliza DeLite was a graceful dancer, feather-fanning her way through Rhapsody in Blue; Diva Hollywood presented a Burlesque transformation inspired by the fairytale of the Little Mermaid; while Aurora Galore ripped the stage as (according to Dave the Bear) the 'fiercest thing out of Croydon'. In contrast, there was music from the ukulele-playing Tricity Vogue (sharing her sexual history in one two minute song), the aforementioned Mister Meredith asking 'What is a Man?', and a short sample of comedian and political activist Kate Smurthwaite's observations on life, American ex-husbands and pathetic online death-threats.
Part of the fun is that there's little or no indication of what you'll get on a particular evening until he or she walks on stage, but it's fair to point out that the Magic Faraway Cabaret generally provides a lively assortment of entertainments and is definitely worth considering if you're looking for something a little saucy, a little lively, and someone who might just be the next big thing.