Review: Museum After Hours: Friday Fringe Takeover ****

Cabaret and Variety

Museum After Hours: Friday Fringe Takeover

National Museum of Scotland, v 179

19.30 (ends 24 August Fridays ONLY)

**** (4 stars)

Friday night fun was abundant in the National Museum of Scotland as it opened its doors to a flood of partygoers, all keen to make the most of the things on offer. This summer’s big exhibition is of the history of Scottish pop, and as a Sassenach I felt it my duty to visit it and learn… I have to admit that I’d not heard of many of the people and groups being celebrated – though I’d probably not have done a lot better with an English equivalent! – still, it was fascinating to hear them talking about their music and their experiences, especially in the light of the show I saw last week at the Traverse, What Girls Are Made Of, in which Cora Bisset looked back at her teenage self and her unexpected rocket to stardom at the age of seventeen. There were photos, posters, guitars, costumes and much, much more – one of the costumes was a fabulous red lace dress Lulu wore: oh my goodness, she was (a) tiny and (b) incredibly slim…

I didn’t stay as long in this exhibition as I have in previous years – but this gave me all the more time to sample the wide range of stuff going on all over the museum. Of course I had to get tattooed – I now have a vinyl disc grooving away on the inside of one wrist, and a tape cassette [remember them??!!] on the other, and I have made [with some help from a staff member and an impressively clunky machine] a fabulously flamboyant badge which will be a more permanent memento of the evening. I spent some time in the costume part of the museum, fascinated by clothes from the past [both far-off and recent] and some of the more surreal sartorial creations the museum has acquired in the last couple of years.

I was also able to sample a number of the ‘taster’ sessions in which acts appearing at the Fringe get a brief opportunity to strut their stuff. The first acrobatic act, SHIFT, was difficult to see because of the crowds of people all craning to see, but what I glimpsed was mildly impressive. Then I wandered off through the science and technology section, stopping to nod at a couple of steam locomotives, and then found a red-headed stand-up comedienne, Jay Lafferty, who had her audience in fits of laughter. Back in the main gallery, another circus act, Tabernak, did some impressive balance work: men with big beards and serious faces [and one beardless and slightly more cheery young woman] climbed all over each other to sonorous and faintly ecclesiastical music. Before that, five amazingly slim and leggy ‘girls’ burst on stage with extracts from their drag act Yummy, enthusiastically gyrating and lip-synching to something extremely loud and energetic. At this point, my ears and my legs aching, I decided it was time to call it a day and go home, leaving the cheerful throng filling the Museum to continue sampling the entertainment on offer until closing time.

Another very enjoyable Night At The Museum, with a distinct lack of scary monsters and a huge amount of fun…

Mary Woodward