Cabaret geek, Paulus, comes to this years Edinburgh Fringe with Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood at the Assembly Rooms. The title tells you almost everything you need to know about this particular show, which at it’s heart is a beautiful tribute to the late, great, Victoria Wood.
Paulus is joined on stage by musical director Michael Roulston, who interjects with dialogue between playing those unmistakeable tunes on the piano. Paulus quips that the show’s set up demonstrates that it takes two men to do the job of one woman, half as well.
Paulus may be being a bit harsh on the pair there, clearly no-one will ever be able to take the place of Victoria Wood, or perform her songs with the same dry northern wit. But Paulus and Michael do a more than decent job of getting through numbers such as ‘It Would Never Have Worked’, ‘Reincarnation’ and the classic ‘Ballad of Barry & Freda (Let’s Do It)’.
It was clear that a large proportion of the audience were Victoria Wood fans, happily joining in with the songs or calling out answers to trivia questions. It speaks to the kind of community Paulus is creating with the Looking For Me Friend. Between the songs, we hear what Victoria Wood meant to Paulus growing up, and explore how the language she used became like a modern day Polari for children growing up gay in small towns.
This mix of well-known music and storytelling, directed by Sarah-Louise Young, reminds us that Victoria Wood was indeed a National Treasure, that touched many more lives than she could ever have imagined. Paulus may not have quite nailed the northern accent that has become synonymous with these songs, but they are performed with love.
Importantly, Looking For Me Friend, is an exceptionally funny hour, and one that genuinely brings people together in celebration. If you’re thinking of booking, don’t be a Pamela Patricia, instead be a Freda, and declare proudly ‘let’s do it…tonight’.