Review: Comfort Food Cabaret at the Edinburgh Fringe
The idea of dinner and a show is hardly a novel concept. Even the idea of eating dinner while watching a show has been pretty done. But how many shows have you enjoyed while watching your dinner being cooked?
(Those of you who are like “well, loads, actually” – you can just…go away.)
Such is the concept of the delightful Michelle Pearson’s almost-one-woman show, Comfort Food Cabaret. She whips up three of her favourite comforting dishes while serenading you and regaling you with the odd tale from her life.
It’s a cracking concept and it so speaks to my ruling passions (food, music, cabaret, food) that I am going to try to get my few wee bits of constructive criticism out of the way quickly, so I can get on with raving about it again.
My main comment is that the whole thing could be tightened up conceptually. The show is called Comfort Food Cabaret so I wanted every story to be tied to the idea of needing to be comforted. I wanted every song to be tied to the idea of needing to be comforted – and goodness knows there are enough of them out there. The songs were all great, I enjoyed listening to them, but they didn’t seem thematically linked. Some of them undoubtedly play better in front of an Aussie audience (Pearson is from Adelaide) but they came across more as her favourite songs, and less like a cogently thought-out set.
Beyond this, my only other niggle is that I wanted a bit more singing. Pearson has the most fantastic voice – powerful, soulful, atmospheric – and I wanted it to be the thing I enjoyed while I was eating my food, not just while she was cooking it.
Now that’s over – let me tell you all the other stuff I loved. As mentioned, Pearson has a terrific set of pipes, combined with a lovely, warm personality and great presence. I so enjoyed hearing her life’s anecdotes and, although they weren’t all as themed as I would have liked, her delivery meant each rang true and human, with unexpected elements which made the audience laugh. Or go “awwww”.
And the food – YES PLEASE. As a member of the audience, you do get three proper plates of food – small-ish portions, but large enough that my plus-one and I were a tad dismayed that we had already eaten dinner. (Note to the flyer/brochure people – saying you get to “taste each dish” is a wee bit misleading!)
We ate all three courses anyway (and someone even polished off an extra helping of the pasta main…) and they were delicious! Perfect comfort food, without being horribly heavy. Plus, there’s the added bonus that they are simple enough to make while performing, so you can even make them at home. Cabaret meets Masterchef – what a concept.
The quality all round was top-notch, a truly fantastic (and sold-out!) opening night for an award-winning show which I am confident is soon going to become a household name.
Keep an eye out – and an empty tummy – for this one, Comfort Food Cabaret is a truly delicious gem.