To base a show around the theme of evening classes is an interesting concept and one which has not been trialled very extensively anywhere, let alone at the Edinburgh Festival. Upon arrival at the Royal Overseas League, I was in a minority: the rest of the audience were all involved in the aforementioned evening classes and were a lot more clued in than your Average Joe.
Nevertheless, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Logan and her pianist Stuart Hope presented a highly amusing and faultless display of some light-hearted classical tunes and all-new lyrics to fit them, with some clever contemporary references thrown in for good measure. The songs ran from ballads by Sondheim about meeting a man from an absurdly long-named fictional Spanish town (who eventually moved to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch) to foreign language-based melodies making no sense at all and rather just listing words and famous people that originate in that country. The concert ended with a clever song, ‘Momsense’, set to Rossini’s William Tell Overture finale, about a nagging mother telling her child what to do. Each song was delivered with expression and great comic timing, leading to titters and chortles from the enthusiastic crowd.
The musicality itself was also good. Logan has a very sophisticated control to her voice – she is clearly well-trained – and a very pure, clear tone which doesn’t rely too heavily on vibrato. As for Hope, he barely put a foot wrong and while the music was never extremely taxing, he played what he was given with ease and panache. That said, nothing was musically outstanding – there were no complex piano solos or belting money notes – but the comical element of the majority of the songs more than made up for the lack of real showboating.