Yana Alana – Between the Cracks
Cabaret and Variety
Aug 21st – 26th
*** 3 Stars
Edging slowly up the queue and into the building which used to house the Forest café (before it moved to Tollcross), is like bumping into an old friend who got their life together in the intervening years but still smells faintly of spilled Buckie and day-old rollies. It’s a grand church building, fit for kings, queens and anarcho-punk feminists, so Yana (created by Sarah Ward) is an acceptable bridge between its previous vibe and the new. She is spunky and weird, painted almost entirely blue, and more glamorous than I may ever be.
Yana is a brilliant singer – her command of chords is unquestionable. She is also a good songwriter. The many songs are at times thoughtful, at others funny. She seldom blends the comedy and the tragedy, instead opting for a narrative arc for the show. This means the songs are grouped together by content: it starts with the entertaining ones like I’m Blue and Back Door Blues (featuring a whimsical trumpet gag) and get increasingly soulful as Yana becomes more naked and raw.
Between the Cracks is not just a practical joke to riff off regarding her bare blue ass. The show is also a reflection on narcissism, neediness, and Yana herself (of course). However, some of my favourite moments are actually the audience interactions, which are playful and imaginative. Yana is helped along here by slightly hesitant, ultimately game guests, including the venerable Burt Bacharach.
It is invigorating to see someone talk about the flip-side to the desire to perform, namely poor mental health. The fact that she shines one of her stage-lights in the direction of the struggles of many quote-unquote Big Personalities is perhaps why her brand of slapstick feels a bit forced at times. The notable exception to this is the presentation of her most recent book Go Fuck Yourself. But for every gleeful exhortation to “Go Fuck Yourself” there is also a joke based on one of the accompanists who provide vital comedic fodder. Pianist Louise in particular becomes the metaphorical butt of the joke and therefore arguably of the whole show, which is ironic considering the aforementioned narcissism.
Review by Joanne Harrison