Cat Loud's Big Night In

Thu 6th – Sun 30th August 2015

reviews

Freya Routledge

at 10:19 on 15th Aug 2015

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Catriona MacLeod is Cat Loud in this raunchy, decadent and hilarious new cabaret, showing for free in the cosy and markedly cabaret-esque basement of Moriarty’s Bar. With her side-kick and musical accompanist Finn Anderson, she sang, wiggled and stripped her way through her set in an enchanting landscape of velvet, sequins and fur.

The quality of the production was largely in her captivating and natural stage presence and I was shocked to discover that her ‘Big Night In’ was her first ever cabaret outing. Indeed, the zest and charm with which she conducted the performance implied all the ease of a seasoned professional.

Viewers delighted in her audience interaction, as she incorporated them into everything from serenades to strip-tease. Whilst this showed MacLeod ticking many of the cabaret boxes, she also decided to diverge from some of the more clichéd routines, notably in her mid-show decision to “slip into something more comfortable” which gave an unexpected and entertaining new meaning to the phrase.

Her cheekiness was a big part of her charm, her good-humoured cracks at her upbringing in the Scottish Hebrides turning her subsequent migration to Edinburgh into a funny story of the naive small town girl in the big city.

Predominantly featuring singing, MacLeod was accompanied with both accordion and keyboard, singing songs old and new, as well as admitting her penchant for Bette Midler. Beyond the humour that laced her vocal performances, MacLeod actually had a lovely voice. This natural capacity for performance permeated her entire stage presence and made her a joy to watch. She even made clever improvised audience interactions during songs and these were received warmly as she exercised her brilliant comic timing.

Only when she slipped out of the persona of Cat and into one that is “more comfortable” did her characterisation slip a little and become less convincing. This more subdued character was less interesting than her flirty and confident cabaret persona but formed the crux of her narrative that every diva needs a night off. However, despite this inconsistency, MacLeod was still brilliant: a charming and funny tour de force of cabaret.

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Ben Driscoll

at 11:46 on 15th Aug 2015

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Cat Loud’s Big Night In begins just before 2pm, but located in the dimly lit cellar of Moriarty’s Bar, it imminently feels like a cabaret performed in the dark hours of night. The cellar is the perfect place for Catriona MacLeod to invite us into her mind as Cat Loud, a diva, who, tonight, is having a night in.

After a short piano introduction, self-proclaimed gay icon Cat Loud soon slinks out from beneath a curtain, demanding the applause and cheers for her arrival. Adorned with a golden besequinned bolero jacket that twinkles fittingly during her first song, Diamonds Are Forever, Cat Loud’s voice is a delight, perfectly pitched and sensual. “Touch it, stroke it”, she sings to an audience member, coquettishly writhing her diamond-ringed hand. When he motions to do so, she snaps “Don’t actually touch it.”

Cat’s songs are full of sassy impromptu asides. They are not sung, but spoken with her mellifluous Scottish accent, which break the mood, and give us Cat Loud’s own commentary on some classic numbers, which are in keeping with a Bette Midler theme.

Between her songs, with the ease of an accomplished stand-up, MacLeod weaves a narrative of her leaving the Hebrides and getting to Edinburgh, the “Hollywood of North Britain”. It’s a subtle story of the small-town girl in the big city, searching for fame, powerfully implying that Cat Loud sees the world through a fame-drunk kaleidoscope.

She toys with the idea that Finn Anderson, her only musical accompaniment on the keyboard (or accordion) sat behind her in a tuxedo, is a figment of her imagination. Are we at a cabaret or is this basement the recesses of a wannabe diva in denial’s mind? Anderson’s presence both grounds and lightens the mood when necessary, as his beautiful low voice echoes MacLeod’s well, also providing perfectly quipped replies in their duets.

Members of the crowd are delighted to join her on stage, as she creates the perfect rapport with them. Yet, soon, the audience are shown why it’s a night in and not a night out. There’s another side to Cat. She’s not always a diva.

At 45 minutes, it feels unnecessarily short, and so Cat’s narrative seems rushed and lost on the crowd. “Stay the night”, she says, but we cannot, as it’s not even night - it’s 3pm. Cat Loud’s fantasy world is absorbing; let me stay there.

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