DILLIE Keane is no stranger to the Capital and certainly more than familiar with the Fringe and Festival. After all, as one third of the hilarious cabaret act Fascinating Aïda, she has now been touring to the city for three decades.
Next month, however, it’s a case of back to the future for the singer and actress who is famous for her biting parodies as Keane takes a break from the trio to bring a brand-new, one-woman show to the Fringe.
New numbers, old favourites, songs of love and songs of disgraceful filth all feature ensuring that Keane will ‘break your heart, mend it again and have it sent to the cleaner’s for pressing.’
“Ah, life is strange,” she muses. “And the roller-coaster that is Fascinating Aïda continues to roll and coast. No sooner had we decided we needed a short break after years of solid touring and looking at motorways from our Caravelle, than I decided I’d quite like to do a little solo show - something between a retrospective and a heterospective. A look back - and forward - at over 30 years of songwriting.
“Then Adèle Anderson was diagnosed with that ole bugger, the Big C. So our little break will be rather longer than ever intended, and I shall be solo-ing more than I’d ever planned, and keeping the name of Fascinating Aïda alive in my own way.
“So this is by way of a double announcement. Adèle, my old mucker and collaborator of more than three decades, is not well, and I have to sell tickets for a solo show. But she’ll be with me on stage spiritually, because she co-wrote almost all of the songs. And Liza Pulman will be with me on stage spiritually, because one of our brand-new songs was written specifically for her.
And because this incarnation of Fascinating Aïda is VERY strong and we WILL be back. Funny old life, innit?”
Dillie Keane will be alone on the Fringe. Here she shares her thoughts with Evening News entertainment editor Liam Rudden
“I wasn’t supposed to be doing the Festival alone. I was supposed to be up in Edinburgh as per usual with my buddies in Fascinating Aïda, wringing the last drops of fun from our recent show, Charm Offensive before we take a year off to write the next show. And then Adèle Anderson, the Dame, my friend, colleague and collaborator of over 30 years, was diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly all our lives were upended, hers most of all.
“By the strange opportunism that Fate occasionally presents, I was doing a little solo show. It was only meant to be a vanity project. Our last tour ended at Easter, and Adèle planned a trip to North Korea (don’t ask), and Liza Pulman was busy moving house and rowing a Cornish pilot gig around Venice (again, best not to enquire).
“Lo! I was presented with enough time off to do something on my own for a change. There was a certain arc of songs I wanted to put together - the more personal songs - as a kind of semi-autobiographical journey.
“I wanted to strip away the glitz and the artifice of Fascinating Aïda and present the songs unadorned by harmony, lighting and glittery frocks.
“It has occurred to me that our joyous silliness, smutty humour and collective glee has often obscured the skill of the songwriting. After all, we’re the girls who wrote the Cheap Flights song, and Dogging. Yeah, clever stuff, funny too, but we’ve written MUCH better songs than that. We wear great clothes, our shows are beautifully lit and we are effortlessly hilarious. And we work like beavers to make the show look as easy and natural as possible. All this hides the quality of the songwriting beneath a glittering patina of professionalism.
“This has, however, been a strange old journey. I’m singing songs I haven’t sung in decades and whilst I’m thrilled to say that they still work, they also bring back the episodes in my life that inspired them. Things that were painful then are funny now, and vice versa.
“Putting these particular songs together feels very revealing, and there are moments in the show when I feel completely naked. But the audience laugh when they’re supposed to, so I guess they’re still funny. And it has given me great delight to revisit very old songs and discover just how good they are.
“But then there is the moment when I go back to the dressing room, and there’s no Liza, no Adèle.
“I miss my pals. I miss Liza coming in with a wheat-free cake to share. I miss Adèle saying she’s got the tickets for the Mongolian Throat Singers. I miss rushing to shows with the two of them because there’s nothing we like better than each other’s company and going to gigs together.
“And I want Adèle to get better for all the obvious reasons - because it’s more fun with the others and because we write marvellous songs together.”
Dillie Keane, Underbelly, George Square, 6-16, 20-31 August, 6.05pm, £10-£15.50, 0131-226 0000