Jayde Adams isn’t the only comedian using Adele as an inspiration for their show this Fringe, and it’s really not to be expected that this one will turn out quite so impressively as it does. What starts as a fairly standard comedy cabaret show, with costumes, confessionals and dance routines, flips on its head several times and ends on a jaw-dropping moment of brilliance.
Adams tells us she was persuaded to become an Adele impersonator by five transvestite friends of hers on the East London scene. To start with, the show feels very in keeping with this. She talks frocks and leotards, she flirts with boys on the front row, she gives a woman a horn to blow if she says anything untoward. It doesn’t get blue, but you feel it could do. There’s a definite queer cabaret vibe to it.
So too when she begins her autobiography. At the age of 31, Adams is a few years older than the woman she admires and resembles, but like the singer has a working class upbringing and gobby attitude (though she claims to have once been shy). She uses both to full effect, letting everything out, joking about her weight and her family and the stupid sexual things she did as a teenager.
So she has a dig at her Mum, a West Country lass who believes what gypsies tell her, as Adams demonstrates by replaying a phone call she had, miming along amusingly. She has a go at her show-off sister, who was better than her at disco dance competitions and school sports days… and boys.
While her sister was the talk of all the boys at school, Adams was ignored and left to obsess about Leonardo di Caprio. She fantasised about losing her virginity in a Titanic moment of high romance, but ended up losing it in a frenzied bedroom moment to a scally lad named Jake. Both get enacted out – the first in the company of a member of the audience who is masked and gloved for the occasion, the second by Adams herself taking the role of the snotty, hoodie cherry-taker. She sprays Charlie Red and Lynx Africa around the room to do some scene setting, and it’s the perfect thing to do. Everyone knows the power of smell to conjure memories, and that, the 90s soundtrack and the clumsy fumbling has the audience creased over. Had it ended there, it would all have been a fun performance, with an incredible amount packed in, and perfectly good in its own right.
But then 31 flips into completely different emotional territory which the audience aren’t prepared for. To avoid spoilers, suffice to say that Adams didn’t want to do a “Dead Dad” show, but found this one coming out of her instead, and thought she’d save the one about being fat til next year. It casts a totally different light on the autobiographical story she’s just been telling, but remains funny, allowing her to re-enact the least appropriate time you could ever rap Eminem at someone.
It’s a choker, but she lifts everyone up again with a daft bit of audience interaction whereby she makes one of them a disgusting looking smoothie. It seems she wants to leave us on a silly note, but no. She’s merely playing with us to set up an emotional showstopping finale, which again it would be a shame to spoil.
There is a hell of a lot in this performance. Adams jokes that she’s an “octuple threat“, but it’s not that idle a boast. She has caught many of the audience unawares and the standing ovation she receives is very well earned.