Edinburgh Festival Fringe cabaret review: Dillie Keane, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Claire Smith.
From the moment Dillie Keane wafts on to the stage you know you are in the presence of class.
Elegantly coiffed, superbly poised and resplendent in flowery evening pyjamas, she opens with a song which brilliantly subverts our expectations of how a middle- class lady of a certain age ought to behave.
Keane is a wonderful writer and performer of comic songs, with a voice that can range from delicate and sweet to raspy and vulgar.
Her range of facial expressions is also extraordinary – switching from innocent and perplexed to thunderous in a heartbeat, embracing but also sending up the full range of human emotion.
In her first solo show for years Keane has plundered her back catalogue to compile a sort of life story in song.
There are songs about falling in and out of love, about boredom, domesticity, infidelity and childlessness. Keane is alternatively seductive, fed up, furious and gloriously content.
It is just like life really. Except funnier.
The opening song is a new one, as is the chilling revenge number about a woman who helped herself to Dillie’s (former) husband.
It is a very emotional show – not just because of the choice of songs – but because the decision to come to Edinburgh alone was taken when Adele Anderson, Dillie’s songwriting partner from Fascinating Aida, had to pull out of the Fringe to undergo cancer treatment.
Adele is an invisible presence throughout the show – acknowledged for her creativity and friendship and remembered with love.
Although Keane plays the grand piano herself for a couple of numbers she mostly sings and performs with the help of accompanist, Dr Gulliver Ralston. Not only does he play, he even joins Dillie in a song about how much he wishes he were a lesbian. No-one looks more surprised than he does about this.
Underbelly George Square (Venue 300) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 20 August 2015
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