I Bought A Blue Car Today – The Alan Cumming Experience arrives in London

Alan Cumming has returned in a flurry of 5 star American reviews to the West End or London’s ‘Glittering’ West End as he sardonically refers to it in his gently lilting Scottish accent.  And the form of his return? A one man concert full of anecdote filled renditions of songs and stories and a couple of new pieces handily promoting an album of the same name – I Bought A Blue Car Today.

Initially giving the impression of a man wholly aware of his own import, he emerges from behind a huge picture of himself on stage; Alan (if I may be so bold) is at pains to show that actually he’s an average Joe made good.  The first few songs and reminiscences are sweetly self depreciating and focus on his nerves at the thought of singing in a one man show.   ‘Bless him, he’s got no pretensions’ one thinks, as he does a fine job with a Cindy Lauper song (a friend of his dontacha know).  But as the show moves onwards a pace this modesty all begins to seem a little bit superficial, as does the engagement that he has created with the audience, until although you are tickled by his impish stories it all feels very much kept at arms length and away from the real ‘Alan’.

His ‘persona’ is highly likeable however and as he beguiles his way through a very Coward-esque version of a Vicky Wood comic ditty at the piano it is hard not to be swept away a little by his undoubtedly jaunty style.  A heartfelt performance of Stephen Trask’s Hedwig is moving and his own song to his husband is touchingly performed, revealing his musical director Lance Horne to have a definite eye for a candied melody.

 But it is when he is presenting his own work that it is most clear that he is not the musical star that the other artists on this bill are and apart from a sexy and powerful Mein Herr, he comes across an average second to these other erstwhile giants.

A night filled with quick silvered wit then, and a touch of class, but sadly not enough integrity or true star quality to lift him up from a very good actor to the vaudevillian star he so clearly wants to be.

Written for The Public Reviews

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