Much ado about Bingo, Brighton Fringe Festival, 26 May 2019

I first encountered Lorraine Bowen probably about 15 years’ ago at the Brighton Fringe Festival topping the bill in an evening of cabaret in the extraordinary Spiegeltent. Her act revolves around sing-a-long tunes accompanied by her casio keyboard mounted on an ironing board. Her biggest hit, the Crumble Song, has now, apparently, been translated into scores of languages, two of which, Italian and Japanese, were demonstrated in this performance.

We last saw Lorraine Bowen on a barge on the Thames in 2011 where she performed Polyester Fiesta, a show celebrating 70 years’ of that most maligned of fabrics. I recall we complied with the dress code and won a prize for having done so. More polyester. So it was no surprise that there was lots of polyester on show for this curious – but huge fun – late evening in the Bosco tent (a variant of the Spiegeltent without the spiegels). This was a celebration of bingo – wrapped up in the music and sweets of the 1970s, with a bit of Shakespeare thrown in. There was audience participation, naturally, and prizes ranging from authentic signed photos of Shakespeare himself, packets of Smash potato, a tube of Smarties and a Curley Wurley. You get the idea!

Our host, Boogaloo Stu (Derek Daniels, left) played the ubiquitous night club compere of the 1970s. He was accompanied by pianist, Ronnie Hazelhorn (the surname might be wrong, but I presume he was named after the ever-present 1970s composer, Ronnie Hazelhurst), who was a sensation. On entering the auditorium, everyone received a bingo card and a pen. The card had a combination of 1970s song titles (for example, Save all your Kisses for Me), advertisement jingles (A Finger of Fudge) and Shakespeare plays (Hamlet). Daniels sang all of these as he waited for a line, then two lines, and finally a full house to be called. It was a live “Stars on 45” medley. For those of us who lived through this decade, it was wonderfully cringeworthy. As the words came so easily. There was also a section called Shakespeare or Shakin’ Stevens. This was more difficult than it sounds!

Lorraine Bowen provided a couple of interludes. She sang her Polyester song with audience help. She also revealed a magical London map dress. What she did with Croydon has to be seen to be believed. And of course, the Crumble Song. The Finale was a celebration of Clacton-on-Sea (right).

The show lasted about 80 minutes. It was great. Pure escapism made by three very talented performers. Daniels, in particular, who even managed Wuthering Heights! Eyes Down!

 

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