Aidan Sadler cuts a striking dash. Mixing David Bowie’s eyeshadow with Tim Curry’s saucy grin and a glam-punk-future-retro vibe all of their own, they skilfully combine down to earth, rather British, humour with heartfelt socio-political statements, some (consensual) audience participation and electro-synth bangers. This show was both much funnier and far more musically adept than I was expecting.
The humour is edgy enough that Sadler is never a bland, or entirely benign, presence and it is the high-voltage volume of their charisma that propels the show. Relatable, human and hilarious dialogue leads the audience to be pleasantly blind-sided by the skill of the musicianship when it happens, a difficult trick to pull off and the true heart of Cabaret. I was reminded of seeing the original Fringe run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, or Festival favourite Dusty Limits, where the small venue, rough edges and raw honesty only make the otherworldliness of the music more arresting. Sadler has the visual aesthetic of a being beamed directly to us from another planet, but also the musical chops to go with it. One standout track in particular named This Song Isn’t Funny But I’m Quite Proud Of It (and so they should be) could stand comfortably next to some of the 70s and 80s classics it recalls.
Whilst Melody doesn’t delve into personal tragedy or trauma-porn (unless you count an alarming confession regarding Babybel consumption) it is not a shallow or frivolous show, even if it does a good job of pretending to be. Sadler leads us to peer into the maws of the 21st century, examining how it feels to be teetering, in high platforms, on the precipice of modern life. The conclusion is inconclusive but I suspect may involve more Babybel.
All words by Susan Sloan.