Pollyanna

The Paradise Palms is a difficult venue in which to perform. The seating is sparse and the bar becomes easily crowded. Most variety nights would struggle to command this kind of audience but Pollyanna is not most variety nights.

A dervish of spoken word, cabaret, drag, and song, drawing from the wealth of LGBT+ talent at the Edinburgh Fringe

The host of the night introduces theirself as “Pollyfilla”, and proceeds to name each member of audience by the “strangest name in the room.” I have been named both Shanti and Cereal. The following two hours are a dervish of spoken word, cabaret, drag, and song, drawing from the wealth of LGBT+ talent at the Edinburgh Fringe. Such highlights have included a showering of the audience in baby wipes by Mawaan Rizwan (Gender Neutral Concubine Pirate) and an instant classic rendition of Pulp’s Common People by resident queen Desert Storm.

These high points are not evenly spread. The guest spoken word performance is often a weak point. This is arguably not the fault of the performer, but instead a moment where the raucous energy of the audience becomes overwhelming. None of this breaks the experience of the show, but instead creates a lull in the building of its frenetic energy.

The apex of this energy is realised in the centrepiece performance of the night, “Brexit: The Musical”. Performed by Pollyfilla, this piece encapsulates so much of the spirit of Pollyanna. Political and sexual, aggressive and hilarious, the audience is both culprit and criminal in baring the (literal) arse of the social zeitgeist. Featuring such numbers as Piaf’s “Non, je ne Bregrette rien” and Sister Sledge’s “Thinking of EU”, Pollyfilla holds the audience deftly in their hand. The finale involving Boris Johnson, a hand-held fan, and a European flag, is a spoiler I dare not reveal.

Curating an audience is a difficult task. I have attended Pollyanna three times at this point, and each time I have felt affirmed and celebrated as a gay man. This is the result of a generous and caring atmosphere that pervades Pollyanna. For those seeking the edge of queer creative talent, this is not one to miss.

Reviews by Freddie Alexander

Paradise Palms

Pollyanna

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Hold your cocktails tight. It's 'down-and-dirty' (Scotland on Sunday) late-night cabaret, Pollyanna. Amongst DJ's, drinking and flirting, join host Pollyfilla, 'slightly terrifying, slightly post-apocalyptic' (FreshAir.org.uk), for a showcase of performance art, drag, comedy and best/messiest Fringe talent. Featured in To Do List’s Top 40 Unmissable Fringe Shows 2015. 'Pollyanna at Paradise Palms provided stages for all manner of freaky queer experimenta, drag and otherwise. The sight of Pollyanna host Pollyfilla marauding on all fours around the bar, heels akimbo, was a reminder of the idea that drag can go wild' (NotTelevision.net). Please catch if we fall offstage…