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Claire Benjamin Presents The Von Trapp Family Singers
Published on Sunday, 19 August 2012
3

3 stars

The Voodoo Rooms (venue website)
Cabaret
4-16, 20-25 Aug, 8:40pm-9:35pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.
 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

Claire Benjamin’s show is a musical character comedy/cabaret, with the emphasis firmly on the camp. It is also decidedly surreal. From bitchy singers tossing out toy soldiers to audience members who (apparently) look as if they need them, via Spanish divas with Julie Andrews obsessions, to histrionic close friends of Noel Coward, Benjamin’s characters are inventive and delightful.

I particularly enjoyed an assertion that The Pussycat Dolls’ Dontcha was written by Noel Coward to try and seduce Rudolph Valentino away from his lavender marriage, and a medley comprising Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt and Edelweiss. Although, in truth, both of these pieces dragged on a little too long.

This seemed to be a continual problem. Filmed interludes intended to cover costume changes were interminable. One, a clip from The Sound of Music repeated twice, tested attention spans in a hot room. In fact, there is a distinct feeling that Benjamin just doesn’t have enough material for an hour, and also that she desperately needs to work on some slicker ways to move from one character to another.

With deeply engaging, original characters and the time given to each one, the show then falls somewhere between character comedy and performance art, but in the end fails to satisfy as either. There are plenty of entertaining moments – definitely enough to make this a worthwhile diversion – and Benjamin is an excellent singer.  But it fails to live up to the promise of the undoubtedly magnificent imagination behind it. It’ll be interesting to see how Benjamin develops; she clearly has talent and ideas, but she needs to give her audience more.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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