Review: Fascinating Aida, Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank

PUBLISHED: 16:37 16 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:37 16 December 2019

Fascinating Aida picture by Johnny Boylan

Fascinating Aida picture by Johnny Boylan

Archant

Cabaret veterans cheer up the crowd with a blend of topical gags, moving melodies and downright filth

Disappointed Labour voters probably needed a laugh last Friday, and the South Bank crowd weren't disappointed.

If there were any Tories in the house they were awfully quiet, as, judging by the response to several topical gags, the Left has a new Aunt Sally in the form of Priti Patel.

Celebrating 37 years since the three-strong cabaret troupe was formed, this class act is by turns, filthy, satirical, moving and gorgeously melodic.

Rousing opening number Fake News sees our heroines sweetly harmonising a list of all the things that are absolutely definitely true in this messed up world of Trump and Bojo.

Elsewhere Sorry Ireland is a mock-sincere apology for the unholy mess that Brexit will reap upon the emerald isle.

All three are gifted singers and physical comics, but founder Dillie Keane has the clown's instinct and pinsharp timing honed from decades on the circuit.

When she takes to the piano to perform the joyfully mucky Dogging, or leads the girls in their hilarious, sweary Ryan Air takedown Cheap Flights, you know you're in the hands of a master.

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And if the laughs of recognition for songs about ageing; This Ain't No Hokey Cokey Anymore, attending Funerals, and the menopause "cardigans on, cardigans off" betrays the age profile of Aida's audience, Deane, an early "climate catastrophist" weaves in some eco-messages that wouldn't go amiss with Greta Thunberg's generation. (Although their social media song, Instagram Hashtag is noticably weaker than other material.)

And when Adele Anderson takes the solo spotlight for the funny/sad Prisoner of Gender about her experience as a trans woman, it brings the house down with supportive whoops.

Lieder is a delicious pastiche of all those languid off-key Weimar chanteuse and a nod to their debt to German cabaret.

And Belsize Park-raised Liza Pullman shines as a goody-goody Brownie leader whose wholesome activities are nixed by Health and Safety rules.

By the time we get to the extremely rude festive encore and its anti-Grinch stance, you'll even be ready for Christmas day with flatulent Aunty Kathleen and leery uncle Bob.

"For eff's sake be merry, Have another sherry, And try not to be a ****' well quite.

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