Multiplied

Tue 16th – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Christopher Archibald

at 15:22 on 18th Aug 2016

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Lazy Rizo’s next album has been slightly delayed by "another release". She’s just become a mother. ‘Multiplied’ begins like any other cabaret show: glitzy fairy lights, an elaborate costume, and a flagrant invasion of the audience’s personal space, but when Lady Rizo really gets going this is a funny, eccentric and tender look at motherhood. The audience is rapt throughout as she interweaves songs, stories, and elaborate prop-comedy.

Rizo drifts among the cabaret tables at the front, taking the opportunity to climb into the lap of a middle-aged man, asking to him to rock her, and to "harness the maternal energy inside of you". Rizo enjoys herself as much as the audience, and her anarchic sense of fun is infectious. But the new arrival adds much to her act. She reflects on her childhood and parents in the 1960s communes of San Francisco. These hilarious anecdotes leave us wanting more, but there isn’t time – she still has to discuss pregnancy, the nomadic life of a travelling entertainer, and the anxiety about bringing a child into a bleak contemporary world. Wonderfully eloquent throughout, I even wonder if she might be a bit wise – but no, this is just Cabaret ... isn’t it?

It says a lot about how likeable Lady Rizo is, that despite hilarious, unwanted interactions with unsuspecting front-row punters (she tells one woman that "not looking at me isn’t going to stop this from happening"), the audience remains in the palm of Rizo’s hand. This is exactly where she wants us. Arms outstretched in a wide embrace, she addresses us as her children, her tribe – "mamma’s here". Without giving away too much, this embrace is taken quite far at the show’s dazzling finale, with the help of the entire audience and a pretty nifty prop.

Rizo’s singing isn’t to everyone’s taste, sometimes going for volume over tuning. However, if you enjoy a good old belter this will be right up your street. Rizo plays two new songs from her upcoming second album, and they are some of the best of the evening. Yet, the highlight of the entire show is a lullaby, performed with the help of an extra special little guest who’s been on tour with Rizo. Several people sat around me well up and the shift in tone, rather than being awkward or incongruous, seems to add purpose to the entire show.

I have to admit my ignorance of cabaret and stuffy English horror at the thought of audience participation, but ‘Multiplied’ wins me over. This vivacious New Yorker will leave you entertained and moved. With a few surprises up her glitzy, chiffon sleeves, Lady Rizo’s show isn’t quite like anything else you’ll see at the Fringe this year.

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Eloise Heath

at 18:00 on 18th Aug 2016

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I read that Lady Rizo's 'Multiplied' is a cabaret, and was nervous. I was expecting brash renditions of ‘Goldfinger’ next to a wobbly keyboard, the threat of jazz hands hanging in the air. What I was not expecting was sharp humour, engaging storytelling and to be genuinely moved to tears. If this is what cabaret is like, I’m converted.

There is no wobbly casio keyboard. Instead, a masterful accompaniment from a haunting cello and soulful guitar. The original songs are catchy and, largely, well sung. In softer moments Rizo’s voice has a beautiful smoky, soulful tone. Other moments are slightly too loud for my taste, a little blaring. Undeniably though, Rizo is a vocal talent.

If you told me before the show that a performance artiste was going to invite me "into her womb" and ask me to create the noise of rushing water, I would have been gone with a puff of cartoon dust and a yelled "see ya". And yet here it works. Incredulous as I am to report this, Lady Rizo is totally winning. She slips with ease between bawdy diva and personable conversationalist. Everyone in the audience wants her as a guest at their next dinner party. The show is based substantially around what it means to be a mother; it moved me to tears, and made me want to call my mum. Rizo is also sharply witty, coining the phrase "Active bitch face" in one of many well observed moments.

For one section of the show, we are invited to substitute clicking for clapping, and say 'shhh' when we want to cheer. The reason becomes clear in a universally delighting surprise, the highlight of the show. I’m not giving this five stars because it is perfect, because it isn’t. There is one song that really doesn't grab me, and occasionally the vocal is a bit shouty.

Despite this, I’m inexorably drawn toward the adjective ‘special’. I urge you to see it even, or perhaps especially, if cabaret isn’t really your thing. It wasn’t/isn’t mine either, but I enjoyed this all the more for showing me something I usually wouldn’t see. I guess what I want to know is, can I be Lady Rizo when I grow up?

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