If you’d have told me that a musical cabaret show of three older women, with a combined age of 185 would, near as good, sell out a 2,499 seated venue - I’d tell you that your dealer has given you a bad batch. But to sit amongst the sea of grey heads and bus passes and listen to such incredibly funny material, I can understand why.
Fascinating Aida are a timeless group of comedians who deliver incredible musicality on top of their effortless comedic delivery. The group have been going since 1983 with a variety of line ups, however their satirical observations are relevant to a variety of people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. I had no need to worry that I was the youngest member of the audience by some years - as they covered modern politics, social media and dogging (of all things).
The stage was set just 3 chairs, some music stands and a beautiful grand piano. Michael Roulston assisted the trio of comic maidens at the music box with his 10 fingers playing as tho he has 20!
Liza Pulman, strode onto stage looking glamorous, and delivered a stunning vocal performance and undertook the high harmonies in the groups choral songs. A truly spectacular singer who captivated the audience with her incomparable pipes! If anything it felt as though the audience took longer to appreciate Liza - maybe because she was the last to join the triad in 2004.
Adele Anderson was a sublime performer who had impeccable comedy timing and used this to her advantage. Adele is an openly transgender woman after having sex realignment surgery many years previous. This show paid tribute to her life in the song ‘Prisoner of Gender’ - it was such a relief to see a room full of people be so open and accepting of what can be such a controversial and difficult topic to cover for a comic performer, topped with a standing ovation for her bravery.
Dillie Keane is credited with the writing of most songs and is the only original member of the threesome. Keane’s lyrics are hilariously funny, witty and relevant - over the years she has mastered her humorous art form and sharpened all her funny bones. A simple look, walk or tinkle on the piano was enough to have the audience rolling in the stalls. The triad of waggish women all had individual stage personas which complemented each other beautifully and its true to say the ‘rule of three’ is comedy’s gift to us all.
Amongst the comedy there was incredible performances, the harmonies were perfect throughout and were far better than listening to the latest girl band’s auto-tuned hits. The piano parts were written with a clear love of Rogers and Hammerstein, paying tribute to some of the finest musical theatre composers of a generation (not my generation).
With over 30 years in the industry however, the women were humble and honest with their audience. At the end of the show these lovely ladies exited the stage through the audience - in a true immersive way that we at Elemental Theatre Company love, and told the audience they will be signing in the foyer. Another similarity we found between Fascinating Aida and ourselves, was the use of the ‘online programme’. Like us they are pioneers of the recycling and green future, audiences can see the programme for this show for free (www.facinatingaida.co.uk)!
Let us not forget the encore - such a surprising end to the show, where the collective performed a song about the very city in which they performed - Nottingham. No doubt the song was a template with last minute additions taken from the first 2 lines of our beloved wikipedia page. But the comedy and connection was at the strongest it could possibly be by the end of the show!
Though the show did have some political messages, promotion for their march and Dillie requesting people visit her website www.shityoudontneed.blog, the show was never preachy or too much, it was the best balance of message and satire. I would highly recommend catching this troop on tour, after the 5 year wait for their return, who knows when we’ll see them again.
Facinaiting Aida was performed at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall on Wednesday the 26th of February 2020. The tour continues in the UK up until the end of October. Tickets are available from http://www.fascinatingaida.co.uk/tour_dates