5.30 Cabaret at The Famous Spiegeltent in St Andrew Square is set within the classic original interior of this venue, and when you have a setting like that to start with, it has the potential to be a great show if the acts are right on the afternoon.
The show is hosted and compered by the very experienced Bruce Devlin, and the show’s other performers, like the audience, change every day. Doing a comedy routine to warm up an audience and compere the show looks to be one of the easiest jobs in the world, but it is not, it takes a lot of presentation skills to pull it off properly. Bruce Devlin certainly has those skills and does issue everyone with what is almost a legal disclaimer at the beginning that the language will get “fruity” and that he will, in getting to know the audience, say things that are a comedy act and nothing personal against anyone at all.
Legal disclaimer out of the way and audience still in the building, the show starts and for the most, the audience do enjoy this almost confrontational style of comedy and the “language at times”. I have to admit it’s not my style, but one of the problems with comedy in recent years is that the “P C Brigade” have left comedians with so little to work with that those two old fall-backs of “bad language” and explicit sexual references have become a comfort zone for many on stage. Bruce Devlin is good at what he does and there is some really sharp observational comedy in there, he simply does not need that mask to hide behind, and his skill at engaging an audience is obvious. To do a show like this every day, you need someone like this upfront. Perhaps a 5.30pm audience needs a slightly softer approach than an 11.30pm one?
Other acts on this show included more comedy, a magic act, a dance act - two dancers with a routine to the classic Roxie Hart intro song from “Chicago” but sadly minus the classic Bob Fosse choreography, and a musical novelty act.
5.30 Cabaret is a format that allows performers of different experience and ability levels to be on stage and get that experience of working in front of a live audience. It’s easy to forget just how hard it is to get stage presentation right, and there is only one way to do it - perform.
The whole show lasts a little under an hour and at only £6 a ticket is less than you would pay for a glass of wine or a good coffee and a sandwich in the centre of Edinburgh. What will today’s show be?...who knows, that is part of the mystery trip you take when you enter 5.30 Cabaret.
Review by Tom King