Sometimes it does a Squirrel good to slip out of the Comedy section in a Fringe Festival programme. This year’s Cabaret section of Fringe boasts such wildly talented and hilarious women as Geraldine Quinn and Yanna Alana. Cabaret requires a lot of skills in a performer, who needs to be adept at all that they choose to present. Elena Gabrielle’s show Sure Sign of Love required, singing, storytelling, character work and a passion for its subject matter. Unfortunately despite her winning personality and confidence, Elena didn’t quite have the skills to pull it all off.
There were positive signs that this was going to be a show that would shamelessly celebrate astrology and have a bit of fun. Elena was wearing a fabulous dress made from bedazzled fabric covered in zodiac signs. She had spoken of her mum’s love of Astrology and described Sure Sign of Love as “A universal guide to dating the Zodiac” but somehow the show turns out to be something quite different. I got the impression that she had become disillusioned about astrology since she planned the show and it had taken a more negative turn.
The structure of the show itself was a bit of an endurance test for the audience. The bulk of the show is a warning list of all the worst traits in (specifically) males born under each star sign which she blames for her unsuccessful love life. The only interest in the list was that she did the star signs out of order, so the audience did not know which would be next. The only relief was a sudden break out in to a game show, where she changed characters briefly into a sleazy ocker game show host which went against the usual slick and smarmy type but the aim of the game was not made very clear. Was it a kind of perfect match? No, because the man and woman were asked about their own respective partners. What were the stakes and how did it fit in with the rest of the show? These were not explained, there was a sense that this was here because it was the sort of thing traditionally expected in a cabaret show.
The list itself lacks any astrological jargon that would suggest she’s done more research than looking up one shallow website and each description sort peters out instead of ending on a snappy punchline. Each starsign is accompanied by an annoying monotone voiceover guy who can only do one voice and a song from Elena (often lip-synched rather than sung) that sometimes only bears a passing connection to her description. Her closing number is a badly sung version of Age of Aquarius, which showed her weak high register. Surprisingly her strongest moment in the show is belting out a snippet of ‘Pants Around Your Feet’ by Nickelback. The performance is topped and tailed by a muddled and dismissive intro and conclusion suggesting that it is all rubbish and that Astrology only exists to screw money out of you. That’s fine but is somewhat confusing, considering all the other stuff in the show. If her plan is for the show to debunk Astrology, then more focus should have gone into it.
The thing Elena should have asked herself before planning this show was “Who is this show for?” If you are a sceptic or uninterested in Astrology then let’s face it, you are not likely to fork out money to go see it as advertised. If you do see it as a skeptic then you are going to be bored and confused with the main body of the piece that goes through aspects of every sign of the Zodiac as if it is real, and its limp half-hearted mockery at the start and at the end. If you are into Astrology you are more likely to go along but also likely to be insulted by her disparaging attitude and lack of knowledge. If you are a fan of slick, or even daggy musical comedy you’re not going to be exactly bowled over either. Sadly I can’t recommend this to comedy fans at all.