Multi-talented performer Alan Cumming has had an astonishing career in film, theatre, television, music, and probably countless other spheres. In this return to the Edinburgh International Festival, he ruminates on a handful of his experiences, doles out wisdom on the ageing process, and ties all of this up with a series of smashing show tunes.

In the spacious, socially-distanced venue at the Old College Quad, Cumming bounds on to the stage and manages to make us feelĀ  – as cliched as it is – as if he’s having a chat with friends, gathered around a bar; perhaps Club Cumming in New York, the one he owns andĀ refers to at various points. Yes, his repertoire is full of name drops – Paul McCartney, Emma Stone, Jessica Lange – and his casual tales of exotic filming locations and New York City nightlife might be unrelatable for the average audience member, but that’s what we’re here for. We want to revel in his glamorous world and hear behind-the-scenes anecdotes about Hollywood stars.

It’s not all fluff and superficiality, though. The real heart of the show is Cumming’s perspective on age – hence the show’s title. He reflects on Western culture’s obsession with youth, particularly in terms of appearance (there’s even a self-penned song about this), though he also discusses the dismissal of elders and the wisdom he’s acquired in his (unbelievable) fifty-six years. He talks about death, too, and recalls some lessons learned from those he’s lost in a touching segment.

Of course, this is a cabaret show and the storytelling is broken up with big musical numbers and thoughtful ballads including Is That All There Is?, Maybe This Time, It Was a Good Time, and When We Were Young (nailing the climax). Again, the common thread is the show’s central themes of time, ageing, nostalgia, and celebration. All of this is accompanied by wonderful musicians on-stage: Henry Koperski, Stuart Semple, Su-a Lee, and Cameron Jay.

Cumming is personable, funny, and a little bit cheeky, and his combination of songs and stories makes a wonderful night of laughs, giddiness, and even tears.