Queer cabaret comes to Edinburgh Fringe and the Space @ Symposium Hall in new musical Soho Boy written by Paul Emelion Daly.
We are introduced to Spencer, who tells us that he works in fashion retail while pursuing his dream of being a cabaret star. With a passion for Edit Piaf, Spencer has no regrets about maintaining a fabulous wardrobe with items that can be returned to the store where he works the following day.
The story flips between Spencer’s hopes of breaking into cabaret, and embarking on a new relationship with the more experienced Johnny. This is essentially a coming of age and coming out story told alongside some cabaret numbers.
The music is nice and there are some sweet ballads that really enchant the audience. The storytelling elements are stronger than the musical numbers, but with a typical fringe running time the plot is a little too truncated to really make an impact.
Spencer’s introduction to chem sex parties and the consequences that follow could definitely be expanded should Soho Boy ever embark on a more substantial run. For Spencer, the goal is to fall in love, and the naivety of the character is well established, especially through voicemails between Spencer and his mother.
The real reason to see Soho Boy though is a triumphant performance from Owen Dennis in the role of Spencer, Dennis perfectly captures Spencer’s needs and desires and engages the audience fully in the storytelling elements.
Soho Boy makes good use of its cabaret style, and leans more towards that genre than that of a musical. It’s eminently enjoyable as it is, but could be even better with some further development and expansion.