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Fascinating Aida: Pearls Before Wine
Published on Friday, 13 August 2010

4.5 stars

Assembly @ George Street (venue website)
14 Aug, 7:25pm (8:25pm)
Reviewed by Lee Zhuo Zhao

Fascinating Aida have been performing comedy cabaret since long before I was born. They've been around for so long, some of their original songs have now become staples performed by other comedy singers. During that that time, the ladies have built up a very loyal fanbase - and it's more than likely that when you see their show, there will be entire sections of the audience who know the songs and pre-empt all the jokes. When I went, there mere mention of 'world music' caused a fit giggles.

Given their long history, the trio of Fascinating Aida get a lot of mileage out of the fact two of them are, how can I put this kindly, not as youthful as they once were. There's just something indescribably hilarious about middle-aged woman singing the kind of immature songs you should have grown out of after your student years.

Although the line-up of Fascinating Aida has changed over the years, ever-present at the centre of it all has been Dillie Keane. At the piano for most of the show, I think I can best describe her as the world's most hilarious mother-in-law. She has wonderful delivery, stage presence and facial expressions; she is able reduce groups into uncontrollable laughter with a mere look.

If you're a student of my past reviews, you're probably expecting me as this point to start criticising the singing. But, no! Not this time! Because here's the bombshell: Fascinating Aida can sing... really well! During their set, they introduced a brand new number whose purpose seems to be to demonstrate this fact. It's slow, it's not supposed to be funny, but it does allow the ladies to sing their hearts out.

This may come as a bit of a surprise because for most of the show, the ladies are essentially speaking in rhythm rather than actually singing. Why? Because this allows the lyrics to come across better, and I'm sure they know that it's the lyrics that are the star of their show: wit by the bucket-load, ingenious rhymes and sometimes even quite deep and insightful.

No, the reason for the missing half star was that the ladies took a while to fully hit their stride. Although they've updated some of their material to make it relevant to the present, some of their songs aren't quite as funny now as they once were. Even the one about the credit crunch, as clever as the lyrics and rhymes are, is beginning to feel outdated.

Still, once they do get going, it's a barrel of laughs until the end. One final warning, though: they really do stretch their "Parental Guidance" rating. Their lyrics are far from clean, and certain themes in their songs are certainly not suitable for children.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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