Edinburgh Fringe cabaret highlights 2013

The month-long arts extravaganza isn't just about plays and stand-up, y'know. Here's our pick of events from the Fringe's dedicated cabaret programme

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Left to right: Tomás Ford, Myra DuBois, 'Julie Madly Deeply'

Left to right: Tomás Ford, Myra DuBois, 'Julie Madly Deeply'

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1. 2012’s TO&ST finalists

Okay, this is a bit of a cheat but all six of the finalists for last year’s inaugural Time Out & Soho Theatre Edinburgh Cabaret Award (aka TO&ST) are back at the Fringe, and all six are fantastic. So make a bee-line for returning winner Lady Rizo plus the Creative Martyrs (‘After the Apocalypse’), Dusty Limits, EastEnd Cabaret, Piff the Magic Dragon and Tomás Ford.

2. Tricity Vogue: Calamitous Liaisons

A word to the wise: those who date cabaret singers would do well to behave themselves or they might end up being ripped a new one from the stage. This new set from London’s ukulele doyenne recalls her romantic misadventures through original songs and saucy tales, revitalising a familiar template with wit, charm and musical invention.

3. Briefs: The Second Coming

This small Australian troupe were one of the discoveries of last year’s Fringe, combining neon-shaded alt-drag clowning and La Clique-style variety to considerable effect – not to mention stealthily satirical takes on class, race and sexuality. This brand new show promises more of the same.

4. Julie Madly Deeply

Sarah-Louise Young stormed Edinburgh for several years with the singing character comedy of her ‘Cabaret Whore’ shows. For 2013, she and her musical collaborator Michael Roulston have changed tack, presenting an affectionately offbeat take on the career of Julie Andrews. They also step out from behind character altogether in their other show this year, ‘Songs for Cynics’.

5. Myra DuBois: Service with a Sneer

One of the sharpest, funniest new stars of cabaret, sweet-and-sour drag queen DuBois delivers effortless control of a room, whipsmart gags and deadpan disregard for basic things like singing in tune. Expect a ‘rags to slightly better rags’ journey as she describes her progress from Rotherham to London.

6. Auden, Britten, Mitchell and Ravenhill: Tell Me the Truth About Love

Mark Ravenhill is no stranger to underground performance, having collaborated with Bloolips veteran Bette Bourne. Here he dips his toe into cabaret waters, directing a ‘queerly intimate’ set by Jamie McDermott that showcases the songs of Benjamin Britten and WH Auden. It also includes new songs by Ravenhill and Conor Mitchell, who previously collaborated on ‘Ten Plagues’.

7. Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra

Paul Vickers’s world of Twonkey is a uniquely bizarro ongoing enterprise that defies easy description. Ruddy-faced, bearded and curly-haired, in t-shirt and jeans, on a stage adorned with a little yellow windmill, a ship’s wheel and piles of dolls and puppets, Vickers tells weird stories and sings rocky songs about deposed alpine centaurs, Lon Chaney and the offspring of Humpty Dumpty.

8. Damsel in Shining Armour

Damsel Sophie first brought this show to the Fringe in 2011 but it’s highly recommended if you didn’t catch it then. A triumphant and award-winning fusion of storytelling and self-mythologisation, glitter confetti and the Celine Dion songbook, it recounts Sophie’s experiences in Paris, trying to engineer the perfect romance.

9. Le Gateau Chocolat: I Heart Chocolat

It's true. We do love Le Gateau Chocolat – few acts boast his combination of personal warmth, Lycratastic alt-drag exuberance and gorgeous vocals, rocking everything from opera to musicals and rap. We're not quite sure what to expect of this ‘night of indulgence’ but imagine it’ll be good.

10. Cab-arette Cab

Sure, it sounds gimmicky but we can’t help but be intrigued: a one-hour show in a taxi, combining tours of Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town with full musical repertoire courtesy of the show’s creator, a cabbie called Lola. But will it deserve a tip…?

Details of all shows at www.edfringe.com
Follow Ben Walters @not_television for cabaret reviews and more from this year's Edinburgh Fringe

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