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A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!




Steven M. Levey and Sean Sweeny by special arrangement with John Mackay and David Johnson present


Fascinating Aïda - Cheap Flights


Director/Choreographer- Spencer Soloman


Lighting design – Mike Robertson


Sound design – Marc Cohen


Starring Dillie Keane, Adele Anderson and Sarah Louise Young


Charing Cross Theatre


5 December 2011 - 7 January 2012



Cheap Flights gets started with a song about tax-evasion, sprinkled all over with generous lashings of the C-word which falls rather flat on an unlubricated audience just settling into their seats. Bowler hats and large fans made from bank notes lighten it up a little, while the audience gets prepared for a show which is sometimes hilarious, other times less so, but almost always indecent. Fascinating Aïda founder, Dillie Keane is comically serious and a truly excellent pianist. Stalwart, Adele Anderson is regal and frank and the on-stage chemistry between the two is tangible. Relative newcomer Sarah Louise Young slots into the coup perfectly and the show makes the most of the new recruit during songs and chatter. Together they will span themes from religion to infidelity and consumerism to celebrity culture.

Dillie Keane had barely pounded out the opening bars to “Dogging” on her grand piano before most of the men in the audience were splitting their sides, apparently very familiar with the song. This is hardly a surprise considering a YouTube video of it, uploaded last summer, has now recorded more than a million views. For those less familiar with the activity and the song, Keane suggests a spot of googling on returning home. The popularity of this long standing cabaret outfit must surely owe in part, to their willingness to embrace new trends, keeping it current and providing endless themes for new material. Sarah Louise Young is a new addition to Fascinating Aïda, and Keane credits her with single-handedly halving the age on stage with her arrival during one of her many frank and charming digressions.

Fascinating Aïda know the art of self-deprecation and know to manipulate it for comic ends. This is epitomized in their hip-hop number “Down with the Kids” for which they slip into some luminous trainers in much the manner any lady might after a hard day at the office. Appropriately attired, they then get to grips with the interests and lingo of today's youth, unashamedly dropping generic buzz-words into a rap to excellent effect. Through putting their own credibility on the line for the sake of their art in this number, they have struck comic-gold, tapping into the collective consciousness and a widespread desire to remain current and socially aware.

“Cheap Flights” is another crowd-pleaser, rubbishing the concept of a 50p flight offer and swiftly cataloguing the various charges, both real and imaginary, which make up the final price. The “oirish” accents and generous diddley-eyeing at the core of this song leave little doubt as to the identity of the airline at the butt of the joke. The use of Tralee, the hometown of Keane's mother, as the flight destination, affords some licence for the paddy-whackery which in most other songs is, fortunately, scaled back.

Though the most popular songs are the obvious choice, the comic highlights in the show for me come from the thirteen tiny “cycles” that the trio perform at intervals, which pick on numerous illustrious politicians and very current affairs.  Armed with only their music stands, a starter note and voices which compliment each other, they deliver instant gratification with their Limerick-like rhymes, earning a riotous reception for each and every one. These instances of sharp wit proved light and refreshing in the midst of some of the longer-standing installations and less entertaining songs such as one turkey comparing surrogate mothers to orangutans.

Fascinating Aïda’s Cheap Flights may not be for everyone but is sure to squeeze out some chuckles just the same. At its best it is an excellently quick witted romp, oozing energy and delightful salaciousness.






Charing Cross Theatre
The Arches, Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NL

Box Office: 020 7907 7075


Tickets £29.50 & 24.50



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