Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

“That’s what I love about Fringe,” an audience member comments as we leave The Dots show at Imagination Workshop. “Discovering something like that.”

Comedy cabaret trio The Dots describe themselves as ‘Morecombe and Wise meets Jane MacDonald.’ It’s a pretty good summary – their act combines a range of music, alongside slapstick and feelgood comedy where everything goes wrong (on purpose). You’d be forgiven for assuming you may be about to enter hack territory. And there is an element of that, but there’s much more besides and it’s refreshing. It’s also innovative, clever and skilled with a side helping of satire and parody.

The group is made up of three women: Helen Colby, Macey Cherrett and Nerine Skinner. They begin by rocking out a Tina Turner number with tight harmonies and fabulous vocals, and it’s clear immediately that these are accomplished singers and performers. They’re glitzy too, embodying everything an evening cabaret should be.

Cherrett plays (and satirises) the role of the glamorous soprano diva beautifully, and her soaring, stunning voice is remarkable. Colby leads the group, with quality West End standard vocals. Her character parodies the tortured performer, fighting the tendency to place worth in success – highly topical during the Fringe. She unravels, largely due to the (on purpose) failures and mistakes of Skinner, who, the story goes, is a last-minute understudy brought in when the original mezzo-soprano suddenly dies. It’s a comedy of errors and Skinner is especially good at making us laugh in the process. The three personas complement one another and the women work in harmony, practically as well as musically.

The ticket price is remarkably low, given the standard here, and easily makes it one of the best value shows you’ll find at the festival. There are some ingenious sections in this show that’s tucked away in a (rammed full) little basement, away from the majority of the hub of Fringe activity. A beatboxing Phantom of the Hip Hopera and the invention on a new genre of music – a fusion of magic and opera, that’s so much better than it sounds – are hilarious, inventive highlights.

They also manage to incorporate visual effects, immersive elements, some very well observed scripting and audience participation in what transpires to be a joyful combination of slick theatre and intentional chaos. The Dots simultaneously sends up its genre, while executing it with finesse.