Melinda Hughes Off the Scale at The Assembly Rooms sees the welcome return of a cabaret artist who still understands what the definition means – the use of song and commentary at times scathing, but always sharp and topical and not, as is all too sadly the case today, an evening of offensive language and sexually explicit comments.
It says a lot about the current sad state of the world that Melinda’s sharp eye for commentary in this show actually makes more sense than the world outside of it. The cabaret of Melinda is one borne out of the days of the German bars and Weimar Republic, a time when words as politically sharp as any assassin’s blade were used to equally devastating effects.
Times have changed though, and in a contemporary world it has become increasingly difficult for any satirist to mock the world’s political leaders as all too many of them are nothing more than cartoon caricatures brought to life by some unseen malevolent entity. We live in a world where the “Leader of the Free World” behaves and looks just the same colour as his appearance in The Simpsons. In a world where every lie and indiscretion of our political leaders is brushed off as “fake news” and the only altar to offer prayers at is the cash dispenser of corporate business, it is getting harder and harder for the satirist to find a new and fresh approach, but Melinda somehow manages this in this show.
In the cross-hairs of Melinda’s satirical telescopic sights, First Lady of The United States (and for some reason I hear in my head Groucho Marx making a comment here) and a very funny song about her deep affections for her husband.
This show does come with a warning about “Strong Language/Swearing”, but it is really on one song and used entirely in perspective to shed light upon the millions of people who hide, often under false identities, behind their social media accounts to spread nothing but cruelty and hate across the internet. The internet and social media again come in focus as the 21st century cult of Narcissus grows exponentially with mobile phone “selfie” takers measuring their worth in how many social media likes they can gather. The fact that so many people are willing to give up their privacy and personal information to feed a “social monster” that never forgets anything is a curious phenomenon; why have so many willingly offered themselves up to “Big Brother”?
Some lighter moments in this show too with a story of predatory “cougars” preying upon their often very willing younger prey, along with sharp observations on many of the little things in this life that we all take for granted.
Melinda Hughes Off the Scale, but certainly still very much focused on the satirical radar.
Melinda Hughes Off the Scale
Assembly Rooms Drawing Room
Aug 1-11, 13-18, 20-25
Country: United Kingdom - England
Cheyne Productions Ltd
Warnings and additional info: Age Category: 16 and above (16+) (Strong Language/Swearing)
Review by Tom King