Fringe Music and Cabaret

David Vernon & Dick Lee

Valvona & Crolla

four stars

Carla Lippis – Cast a Dark Shadow

The Boards @ Edinburgh Playhouse

three stars

A Touch of Mrs Robinson

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

three stars

Rob Adams

THERE IS no second guessing the accordion and clarinet team of David Vernon and Dick Lee. With a repertoire that is virtually the equivalent of an atlas, they’re as likely to follow a polska with a samba as take a trip down a Parisian thoroughfare en route to some Mozartian adventure.

Eastern European folk dances are a particular favourite and for all that Vernon huffs and puffs at the unfairness of having to play such intricate metres in a tempo that might have left Usain Bolt in the pair’s slipstream, what they call their “jewaleilidh” numbers – klezmer-style dances played for ceilidh dance robustness – are despatched with maximum musicality that hardly seems to tax them.

Vernon’s Barry City Waltz, the dizzyingly impressionistic Roulette Wheel and jazz items including 12th Street Rag and Take Five add to the variety, with Lee equally assured in the hot New Orleans style and the cooler lines of Paul Desmond. It’s an hour that passes very quickly, helped by a liberal supply of anecdotes and reminiscences from a duo who might be on a stage but whose relaxed manner could just as easily place them on neighbouring bar stools.

Run ends August 24.

CARLA Lippis is a singer from Adelaide, whose Edinburgh show begins with the eerie, yet oddly familiar, strains of what materialises as a left-field, industrial version of A Whiter Shade of Pale, delivered with snarling menace some distance removed from the original’s summer of love geniality.

She presents an angry, hurt figure who’s had to roll with the punches and learn lessons the hard way. As seems to be the way with cabaret artists who adopt a rock edge in mining the darkness, she has a tendency towards the overwrought and her fidgety presence can be quite distracting. She’s well served by her two musicians, however, and they dig in with some fine gospel chops as well as creating an effective, noisy landscape for Lippis’s sinister prowling.

Run ends August 26.

FIONA Coffey arrives in a blaze of leopard print and rides off with Steppenwolf as the middle-aged temptress who got geeky Benjamin Braddock’s motor running in The Graduate. Coffey’s A Touch of Mrs Robinson is part treatise, part social study and part musical romp in which she examines what led to the great seduction and ponders the seductress’s relationship with the victim of her indiscretion, her daughter.

It’s an easily digested, audience-involving bit of fun and while Coffey just about gets by in the singing elements of her role, her pianist and drummer enter into the spirit of the show with well-timed detail, goofy humour and some decent harmonies on songs ranging from the agreeable swing of jazz standard You’re the Cream in My Coffee to the spunky defiance of Ray Davies’ I’m Not Like Everybody Else.

Run ends August 26.