Cabaret Fringe Festival
Bakehouse Theatre
Until 24 Jun 2017

Review by Jamie Wright

Despite travelling much of the world - either in search of, or to distract from the painful side-effects of it – Tess Fowler hasn’t had a lot of luck with love. Through songs, verse and prose storytelling, Fowler takes us on her journey – both geographical and personal/spiritual.

Directed by cabaret veteran Sidonie Henbest, Fowler is backed by Logan Watt on piano and Frank Giles on violin (and guitar on one number), the songs are a mix of Fowler’s own compositions and covers of a diverse range of artists including Raleigh Ritchie, Alessia Cara, Beyoncé and Burt Bacharach.

The show is at its best when Fowler, who has a great, deeply expressive voice, is singing. That’s not to say that the narrative aspects aren’t good, but she does take a while to warm up; there’s a contrast between how well she engages with audience at the very beginning (seemingly more overtly scripted than candid) compared to later on – but as it moves along, it starts to feel more natural. The pre-recorded narration sections help give it a sense of contemplation, but it’s at the cost of bringing back that fourth wall.

Fowler is a talented and very genuine performer; it’s difficult to not get drawn in. And while this show has a few structural bumps to smooth out, it’s still engaging and entertaining – and, hopefully, an indication of what’s to come from this artist.