The annual exodus to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival is firmly underway.

Many performers are making tracks as they head north for the summer but, before they do, we were on hand to see some previews. We recently saw EastEnd Cabaret’s new show Notoriously Kinky  and on Wednesday enjoyed another slice of musical comedy courtesy of The Ruby Dolls and their revamped Rubies In The Attic at the Riverside Studios. The quartet bring their varied ancestry to the fore with moving memoirs which blend history and geography. Anyone who has had a close relationship with grandparents will find much here to stir the mind and the heart.

The Ruby Dolls use musical comedy to bring to life stories of their ancestors.

The Ruby Dolls use musical comedy to bring to life stories of their ancestors.

On Tuesday, the Hippodrome Casino received Miss Polly Rae, Edd Muir and other regulars of London’s cabaret scene for Between the Sheets, its first burlesque show since re-opening on July 12th. Few venues can claim its variety legacy: Charles Chaplin performed some of his earliest music hall numbers there in 1900, followed by revues and musical comedies by the likes of Ivor Novello and Lauri Wylie, as well as British runs of the Folies Bergère Revue.

As recently as 2008, the venue housed circus sensation La Clique in an acclaimed nine-month run. The intimate atmosphere of the Matcham Room, its new performance space, makes it a perfect spot for cabaret and burlesque. This Is Cabaret is thrilled to see a glittering jewel in the crown of London entertainment restored to its rightful place in vaudeville.

Fans of Time Out Live’s themed variety show Alternative Eurovision were treated to a topical update on Thursday with the Gold Gold Gold – Alternative Opening Ceremony. Hosted by Anna Greenwood in London Wonderground’s Spiegeltent, the compère pulled out all the stops getting the audience fired up with a karaoke rendition of the eponymous Spandau Ballet classic, an air guitar contest and constant changes of costume between acts.

The international selection of talent was an eclectic bunch, many of whom will be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe. Latin Jose‘s freestanding headstand on a trapeze was the equal to anything seen in Cantina while Javier Jarquin The Card Ninja showed off considerable skill sending playing cards flying into a melon or boomeranging around the venue. Up and Over It tried out an interesting new all-foot-no-hand-dancing routine and The LipSinkers brought the curtain down with an abbreviated version of their Macbeth-inspired routine to Meatloaf’s I Would Do Anything For Love. EastEnd Cabaret deservedly walked away with the gold medal after another fine performance of DangerWank.

Punk-cabaret trio the Tiger Lillies have built up a fearsome reputation for innervating works over the last two decades, creating stimulating music which plunges into the murky morass of modern life. Later this year, a new show at the Southbank Centre sees them re-invent Hamlet while this week lead singer Martyn Jacques plays his first solo show The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari. Based around a silent film from the 1920s, Jacques scores the sinister story of love, murder and hypnotism with his trademark accordion, piano and falsetto singing. The show runs until August 11th at the Soho Theatre.


Photos courtesy of the performers