Paradise Palms (Venue 411)
Cabaret and Variety (Variety, Performance Art)
Aug 17, 20-24
“Pollyanna” is the punk rock of drag cabaret. Raucous and rude, they play host to variety of performers, both home-grown and Fringe touring. Playing to a standing room only audience, it is clear that “Pollyanna” has achieved some measure of Edinburgh Fringe cult status.
Pollyfilla, the growling master of ceremonies, stomps across the stage in boots and torn fishnets to welcome each act. The house talent is Desert Storm, a Cleopatra-cum-disco-hall queen who’s lipsync commands presence admirably. The guest performers vary each night; touring queens Gieza Poke and Kate Butch offered 5-8 minute performances apiece. The latter was a clear showstealer, performing a rendition of Avril Lavigne’s ‘Sk8er Boy’ to the tune of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from Les Misérables.
The centrepiece of the night is Pollyfilla’s ‘Theresa: The Musical’, where host recruits members of the audience to help with three pun-filled singalongs. This sequence is enjoyed by an already fever-pitch audience, but it lacks the coherency and inventive flair of last years ‘Brexit: The Musical,’ while recycling many of the same jokes.
The performances of “Pollyanna” are interspersed with regular breaks to prepare the stage, where one could attempt to reach the bar through the crowd. It is disappointing that these so readily available moments aren’t utilised by the hosts of “Pollyanna”, possibly for some MC work. Pollyfilla radiates a natural charisma, yet fails to truly capture the attention of the audience with their brief stage time. More time spent with the audience would hopefully instill more control, and subsequent respect of quieter acts.
To close, Pollyfilla informed us that Aphid, their resident DJ, will be playing songs until 3am. It is clear that much of the audience was there for the dancing, and not the show. As a party I’m certain “Pollyanna” is a good time. As a performance it fails to truly capture the imagination.
“Pollyanna” is rough and alternative. It is an experience that is, unfortunately, only sometimes memorable. Despite this, I look forward to seeing what these artists offer in the future.