Saturday, 22 August 2009


21/8/09, Pleasance (Edinburgh Fringe)

Peter Straker is clearly a fringe institution, though we'd never heard of him. He first came here, he told us, in 1969 when they gave him a week off from the cast of the original London production of Hair. Forty years on he's still going strong, singing scorching cabaret songs to a piano accompaniment by Peter Brewis and with deadpan verbal and musical contributions from Rebecca Brewis ("no relation": cue an entertaining verbal spat with her dad, concluding with his remark, "Of course it's bloody nepotism").

It was directed by Mel Smith, who presumably contributed the backchat and badinage.

Long Island Iced Tea, we were told, was a concoction of equal parts gin, vodka, campari and tequila, and lethal it sounded.

Straker has longish hair tied back in a very tight bun, a pencil moustache (genuine or pencilled on?), eye make-up and a cracking voice.

Highlights: several Jacque Brel numbers, including a belter called Madame, in exceedingly witty English translation (memo to self: must find out more about Brel); MacArthur Park (including a cake "left out in the rain", which Ms Brewis delicately watered from a watering can); a Cat Stevens number; Harry Belafonte's "Day-oh!" with audience participation.

Most enjoyable.

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