A night at the theatre in the Company of Dillie Keane, Adèle Anderson and Lisa Pulman (aka Fascinating Aïda) is a unique and life-affirming experience. The group have been delivering their brand of excoriating satire, razor-sharp observation and sophisticated wit for nigh on thirty years; and judging by a glance at the demographic of the audience many, like me, have followed them faithfully since the get-go. Despite the sentiments of the first number on the bill (We’re Next ) FA show no signs of slipping quietly into their dotage. If anything, they are more relentless (and certainly more potty-mouthed) than ever in their pursuit of politicians, big-business and all forms of bigotry.
As always the songs are beautifully crafted. Dillie and Adèle are responsible for most of the lyrics and Dillie’s music is very polished, something you don’t really notice until, in the midst of the mayhem they bung in one of their poignant, bittersweet ‘regret’ numbers (such as Out of Practice and Old Home) which can be achingly beautiful.
Over the years a number of different performers have filled the third slot and provided the soprano voice which is so essential for the harmonies. This slot has always been considered temporary, but Lisa has been with the group for ten years now, and her name now appears from time to time in the writing credits. One of the great advantages of having been together for so long is the perfect blend of the three voices which can be quite spine-tingling.
O the night that I went the song which drew the wildest and warmest applause was Prisoner of Gender. This song has been on the back burner for many years but only finally saw the light of day last year. It is the song in which Adèle describes with unflinching honesty the story of her gender realignment. It may well be that the climate of public opinion has thawed to the extent that acceptance is guaranteed amongst the liberal majority, but it is nonetheless a courageous thing to do. Adèle does it with such grace and style that she mops up all the love in the room.