Fascinating Aïda: Charm Offensive

Underbelly, Bristo Square

From 31 July 2014 to 25 August 2014

Rating: ****

Review by David Chadderton

This long-running trio—current line-up founder and pianist Dillie Keane, deep-voiced Adele Anderson and soprano Liza Pulman—can fill an auditorium the size of the big purple cow with ease, and even battle against the noise from the bar just a sheet of canvas away.

The audience is mostly, ahem, on the older side, but open-minded enough to laugh at perfectly-rhymed obscenities sung with cut glass accents in perfect harmony. And laugh they do, wholeheartedy—and in some cases they even sing along.

The subjects of the songs are issues that concern the performers at their current ages, and so they begin with something on getting older—or "next in line for the undertaker"—and examine the problems of grown-up kids who keep coming back home, even after they are married: "Boomerang Kids".

Dillie Keane solos on a hilariously filthy classic that most fans know well, "Dogging", and the encore (they didn't have time to wait for us to shout for it) is the massive YouTube hit "Cheap Flights", examining all of the extra charges that suddenly appear on the "flights for fifty pee"—sung for some reason in an Irish accent.

Not all of the songs are out-and-out comedies; there is a very touching song about the sadness of leaving an old house, and Anderson bravely confronts the subject of her sex change in an amusingly serious way.

I was wondering whether they would mention the big news story about their manager refusing complimentary tickets to ATG Theatres in protest about their charges—rather like cheap flights. Keane did say that one of the advantages of having online programmes is that ATG can't take a cut. Perhaps a song may come of this one day.

This is a group that shows its class and experience with every song and spoken link and knows exactly how to handle its audience. It's a great show with belly laughs from beginning to end.