A regular Banshee Labyrinth fixture, and Edinburgh’s longest currently running cabaret night, The Freakeasy Cabaret kicked off this year’s Edinburgh Horror Festival with ghoulish giggles and screams of laughter. While the Halloween special had to make do without it’s regular Master of Ceremonies, there is still plenty of variety and talent aiming to spook things up.
The night begins on a quieter note courtesy of Tom Coyne. Though his look may give a Robert Smith vibe, his acoustic set cuts more of a Johnny Cash ‘man in black’ figure, and one with a very distinct charm. Treating the audience to some wonderfully melodic songs, including one about the D-Day landings, Coyne proves to be an absorbing musical presence. His three-song set is heartfelt and beautifully sung, leaving an impression that stays with you for the rest of the night.
He is followed by the second Tom of the night, Tom Moore. A gifted storyteller, Moore has a great knack for dramatic presence and timing. While none of the stories (save one) have any real substance, it is the delivery that kills. He is followed by the offbeat, wacky and unpredictable Dr. Bonk – a medieval doctor, complete with plague mask, who catches out an audience completely unprepared for his exuberance. Most of his jokes are met with shock, awe, and enough healthy doses of laughter to keep the black death at bay.
Perhaps the most dramatic act is Danger Dave Reubens, dropping in alongside his own show at the festival and following an Edinburgh Fringe run last August. He has brilliant energy, unleashing a dramatic card trick on his audience as well as a bold new take on Russian roulette. It is with Reubens that Freakeasy really gets that special cabaret feeling; the audience are jeering, laughing and rocking in their chairs as madness ensues onstage. For sheer fun factor, Reubens is the treat of the show.
The final act is Phoneutria Fera, who performs a brilliant Beetlejuice-inspired burlesque/lip sync act. An ingenious, quirky and different type of reveal, Fera’s act seems disappointingly short compared to the acts that come before, yet manages to leave a phenomenal impression. It ends Freakeasy on a sexy, creepy and entertaining note, the show feeling like the perfect way to welcome you through the Horror Festival’s creaking doors. If Freakeasy is anything to go by, you will never leave.