The Lyceum’s Variety Nights are billed as eclectic events which will ‘bring inspiration and entertainment to your Sunday nights’. Tonight’s show, the second in the series, doesn’t disappoint. Curated by Flint and Pitch, the spoken word, theatre and music event producer, and hosted by spoken word circuit regulars Jenny Lindsay and Sian Bevan, we are in safe hands tonight. At £15 per ticket, and comprising nine acts over two hours, you certainly get bang for your buck.
The breadth and wealth of the talent on display tonight is impressive, and in the first act alone we are treated to eclectic Glasgow six piece Pronto Mama, song and poetry from acclaimed actor and Lyceum regular Gerda Stephen, and spoken work from Aidan Moffat.
Fresh from his acclaimed film Where You’re Meant to Be debuting on the BBC to much enthusiasm, Moffat is on fantastic form. He drops the C-word in quickly, as the title of his first piece, quickly affirming that the grandeur of tonight’s venue will not restrict our performers’ more colourful creative expression. He then gives a performance of his children’s book The Girl in the Lavender Blue Dress, a charming morality tale in Scottish rhyme, which champions family and love over material possessions. The two equally enjoyable pieces demonstrate his range and unique appeal – both sweet and a wee bit salty.
Obviously, the political climate cannot be avoided. Even though the “we’re-living-in-a-post-apocalyptic-Trump-nightmare!” proclamations are now so clichéd as to be grating, there is still content here which manages to give new perspective and stimulate thought. The Creative Martyrs cabaret is inventive and charming while being deeply unsettling. A jolly number about a boat trip turns out to be about the refugee crisis, and in particular the three year old Syrian boy whose dead body, washed up on a Turkish beach, made headlines internationally. The musical baiting of Daily Mail style views on immigration is enjoyable and fairly standard satirical fare, until the duo pause playing for a moment and directly ask the audience whether we can remember the little boy’s name. It’s a genuinely jarring moment as the answer seems to wordlessly resonate around the beautiful theatre – no, we can’t. They had to look it up, they tell us. His name was Alan Kurdi.
There is then a change in tone as we are treated to the gorgeous singing of Rachel Sermanni, who will no doubt have many of tonight’s audience in attendance at her upcoming Summerhall show, purely on the strength of these three dark and beautiful love songs.
The originally billed Don Paterson unfortunately has the flu, so “hero of the night” Colin McGuire steps up to deliver an epic poem which begins as a mediation on the hellish pain of waking up and getting out of bed in the morning. He complains of the “hard slap” of the shower, accompanied by thoughts of the “dull industry of breakfast”, while stalking around the stage, rather adorably, in fleecy slippers and dressing gown, clutching a pillow. The piece progresses to an anguished treatise on the choice we all have to wake up and become politically conscious, to engage with the world and all its flaws.
Our sparkly hosts hold the night together, introducing the acts and warming the audience up, even holding a free raffle for Johnny Cash themed goody bags. House band Pronto Mama bid us farewell with an a capella finger-clicking performance directly facing the audience, in a style reminiscent of early TV on the Radio.
Tonight has been about variety in the truest sense, giving the audience an introduction to talent they may not have sampled otherwise. The line-up for the third variety night on Sunday 4 June is still to be announced, but no doubt it will also be full of creative and talented treats. We highly recommend you get yourself a ticket.