SURGE Cabaret Club
Part of SURGE festival
The Arches, Glasgow
SURGE was a great success, especially for a totally new festival. The week was a much needed celebration of physical theatre in Scotland, particularly with the Fringe next month having lost the Aurora Nova venue and generally become swamped by wannabe stand-ups fighting for an award sponsored by Fosters.
The many free outdoor events and collaboration with the Merchant City Festival meant a very wide audience was reached and the festival was experienced by many Glaswegians. Used To Be Slime appeared out of nowhere in George Square and attracted an astonished crowd. Whilst underneath the train station darker things were afoot, Venus Labyrinth and Red Bastard were two of the best things I've seen all year and I very much doubt that view will change from being in Edinburgh in August.
The only low point, was the Cabaret. Admittedly the bar had been set very high but it suffered from two problems: being too drawn out and giving particular acts too much time - and it didn't feel much like a cabaret.
It was also very dated: the warm-up was a pub quiz and then the next main feature was Festival Television. The shenanigans of Alan Bazzard and Nina Fontana seemed to go on forever and although it had just been filmed hours earlier the humour was decades old. Then the director and producer of the festival were brought on stage for a pointless interview. This was daytime television masquerading as late night entertainment. What was going on?
Admittedly there were some good acts later, Freakshow: Dramaten. Although Dramaten tried hard and did supply some lewdness and laughter as had been promised, by then the audience had been lost: some had fallen asleep; others had gone home.
The dragged out Cabaret was a bit of a downer after an amazing day, but it wasn't all bad. I stayed till the bitter end when they brought a DJ out and there was a fun little dance at the end with some of the performers.
Reviewer: Seth Ewin