Skip to main content

George Benson

Edinburgh Playhouse
3 stars
George Benson has always been a smooth operator, ever since he made the transition from regular jazz guitarist, sometime sideman to Miles Davis and protégé of Cecil Taylor, to crossover mainstream superstar crooner and colleague of Whitney Houston. Such is Benson’s appeal on the Edinburgh leg of his current world tour that the ladies packed into the royal box are on their feet and all a-sway before anyone’s even set a foot onstage. And when Benson does breeze on, the rest of the room joins them.

Much of this appeal, one suspects, comes from his version of The Greatest Love Of All, which he encores with tonight following a host of other crowd-pleasers which book-end a ninety minute set that builds towards wedding disco favourite, Give Me The Night. The airbrushed jazz-funk sheen of this and Turn Your Love Around, which preceded it, sound as sophisticated as a soundtrack to a suburban wine bar. Its inoffensive bump-and-grind, however, is infectious, as Benson himself demonstrates on a not quite decent slow shimmy with himself.

Beyond such displays, the most interesting part of the evening comes on another Benson stalwart, an extended instrumental version of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit, which turns the song’s psychedelic tango into a boogie workout. A shame, then, that many seized this as an opportune moment for a toilet break which they really should have held out for until a bizarre but affectionate solo rendering of Danny Boy. With a bassist who plays tambourine with his foot and a version of On Broadway injecting the song with both Bo Diddley chug and wicka-wacka groove, Benson’s commercial sleight-of-hand appears as effortless as ever.

The Herald, July 1st 2008

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…