All That Malarkey

There is no doubting the talent of the five-strong musical team that is All That Malarkey. Intricate arrangements of jazz classics, pop hits and opera favourites are delivered with crystalline pitching and rhythmic precision.

Classically trained singers are not always the best at letting their hair down but this highly accomplished singing quartet (two tenors and two sopranos) is up for anything. Which is just as well given the driving force that is musical director and pianist David George Harrington.

Like a youthful Steven Fry, this gauche maestro has harmonic exuberance and melodic allusion spilling out of him. The singers gallop along in style before this musical charioteer and the result is a high-energy performance combining risqué banter and some very fine singing. Soprano Fran Gregory in particular produces a lovely creamy sound in the midst of the complex music.

For in a small venue with a bit too much volume on the sound system, it can seem a little overwhelming. I did wonder at times whether the less-is-more precept might have been gainfully employed. A four-part jazz-Baroque fusion of What a Wonderful World may be terrifically impressive but is it really an improvement on the laid-back original?

With more than a glance back at cabaret of years gone by, but with an in-your-face energy that is very much of now, this show has a unique vibe. As time goes on it will be interesting to see whether All That Malarkey will settle down into a camp cabaret act or do something a little more interesting and dangerous.

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Julie Morrice

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