Edinburgh Fringe 2022 
Interview

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Fascinating Aida
Liza
Pulman
Venue: Assembly George Square - Gordon Aikman Theatre
Aug 3-13, 16-27, 18:00 /  Tickets
July 23, 2022

They're back at last! Britain's greatest cabaret trio return with their smash-hit show guaranteed to put 'a massive smile on your face and a spring in your step' (Scotsman). Jam-packed with hilarious songs (old and new), outrageous humour and an elegant charm that belies the biting satire and their potty mouths. 

 

On August 14th Liza Pulman will be performing THE HEART OF IT at Assembly George Square at 18:00, more info here.

 

Hi Liza, thank you so much for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping?

 

We’ve been so crazy busy this last year and away so much with the tour that I’ve just been enjoying having July at home and the chance to see people again and remind my cat and my husband what I look like. (probably in that order too…).

 

How does it feel for you to be coming back to the Fringe?

 

To be honest, Its been so wonderful to be back out and performing again (we’ve been touring since last September) that getting to play Edinburgh after such a grim, two-year hiatus feels like the absolute cherry on our cake.

 

Do you remember what your first Fringe was like?

 

Oh, I was the new girl on the block. Dillie & Adele were old hands at the whole Festival thing by the time I got there, but I was blown away by the sheer scale of it and by the energy of it. I’d been to Edinburgh many times before to work, either at the Playhouse or at the Festival theatre and, in fact, my mum had played Adelaide in a wonderful production of Guys And Dolls at the Lyceum theatre many years ago (I was a mere child!) and so I’d spent Christmas and New Year up here then, but when I arrived for my first Festival the city was unrecognisable to me. Apart from anything, you can’t see from one end of a street to the other throughout the entire month of August – it’s just a totally different place – but I loved it.

 

If you could describe Edinburgh Fringe in one word what would it be?

 

Madness!

 

Fascinating Aida has had a great Fringe history being nominated for the highest festival award at the time, the Perrier Award na d you have three Olivier Award nominations to boot. What has it meant to you to get this type of recognition for your work?

 

The group has been going for so long now, Dillie started it 39 years ago, Adele joined a year later and I joined 18 years ago. The award nominations are wonderful and something to be proud of for sure, but the thing that makes me really proud is that we are still here, selling-out theatres and making people laugh and cry and think after all these years. If there was an award for endurance I don’t think they’d bother nominate us, I think they’d just give it to us! Maybe there should be?!

 

Do you have any traditions to superstitious before you go out on stage?

 

Rather embarrassingly, the three of us stand in the wings every night whilst the brilliant Michael Roulston is playing the opening of the show and, Madonna-like (the pop-star, not Jesus’ mum) we huddle and hold hands and do a crazy little dance and beam! We love what we do and we love doing it together and that eccentric little ritual in the wings, just reminds us of that before we step onto the boards for another show.

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Can you tell me about you show, what makes a Fascinating Aida show so unique?

 

It’s the writing. All the material is written by us - lyrics and music. Dillie is the driving force without a doubt and she writes all the music but it is very much a team affair and that’s what really makes it unique, I think. We are all fastidious and nit-picky in our own ways which basically means, we don’t stop until we feel we’ve got it right, sometimes talking for days around a possible subject or for hours about a possible line. Every word is carefully chosen, even the rude ones, and nothing makes it into a show without earning its place. And then, there’s the harmonies. I recently described us a cross between the Andrew Sisters and Lenny Bruce so just when you can’t breathe for laughing, we’ll hit you with a heartbreaker. We have never been what you expect!

What has been the biggest challenges you have faced bringing a show to the Fringe?

 

Accommodation! Edinburgh has always been expensive at Festival time, but this year has been crazy. It’s been a real challenge trying to find somewhere for the three of us to stay together. I’m not quite sure how the next generation of festival artists are going to manage.

 

Have you always had a passion for music?

 

I have. My parents were theatre folk. Although my father couldn’t sing a note, mum was an actress and singer and dad was a writer. There was always music in our house, whether it was my sister and I singing in close harmony around the piano or mum, bashing out a folk song on the guitar. In fact, she and I were chatting recently (she’s 91 now) and she was telling me that she was up at the Edinburgh festival in 1951 as a member of Joan Littlewood’s theatre Workshop with Ewan MacColl’s ground-breaking plays, Jonny Noble and Uranium 235. Funny to think I’ll be up there 71 years later!

 

How did Fascinating Aida come about and how much has your cabaret changed since you started out?

 

It was before my time and so I hope I get the story right. Dillie was singing and playing in a wine bar and had roped in a couple of her friends to sing some harmonies with her. She was busy writing songs all the time meanwhile, and happened to be heard singing one of these songs at a party ( It was way past her bed-time and I believe alcohol may have been involved) As a result, she was offered a spot on the current affairs radio 4 programme, Start the week, and was immediately filched by the discussion programme, Stop The Week to write regular songs on the topic of the week.  When asked to bring a couple of musicians to fill out the sound, she brought her wine-bar-singing friends with her and thus, Fascinating Aïda was born. 

As to how it has changed, I would say the heart of what we do is probably exactly the same as Dillie was doing all those years ago but I think we’re better at it now. At least I hope we are! 40 years is a lot of writing and a lot of experience but the need to satirise and pierce the bubble of shite that is out there at the moment is more important than it has ever been. We’ll be doing it till we drop, I suspect.

"It is such a privilege to have access to the breadth of talent that comes to the fringe and it so informs our work as we move forward."

If you could describe yourself through a song what song would it be?

 

I was recently playing Rickie Lee Jones singing “I won’t grow up”. I’m ageing rapidly (nearly 20 years in FA will do that to a girl) but I feel younger than i ever did -until I look in a dressing-room mirror and count all the lines that weren’t there yesterday.  I’m not remotely grown-up and have no intention of becoming so any time soon!.

 

Do you have any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer a budding cabaret star?

 

Go and see as much as you can, particularly if you’re at Edinburgh. It is such a privilege to have access to the breadth of talent that comes to the fringe and it so informs our work as we move forward. Whether its throat singing from Mongolia or the Theatre of mime from Italy, see it all.

 

And finally, what do you want your fringe audiences to take away from your show?

 

The leaflet to my solo show which they will find on their seats!