” A nonstop vocal joyride”
Returning to a group you have vastly enjoyed at the Fringe previously is like releasing a paper airplane into a storm: there’s not much you can do but hope – and as I sat in the audience for the next instalment in The Accidentals’ success story, I could definitely hear the wind whispering at the stage door. For me, this Fringe has certainly raised the quality bar in terms of performances I’ve seen, and my worst nightmare was that my favourite a capella choir just wouldn’t be able to stand up to the wonder. My only advice to other prospective audience members would be this: fear not. The Accidentals aren’t just coasting on the wind, they’re soaring.
Running the variety gauntlet once again from traditional Scottish tunes to lip-battering beatbox performances, The Accidentals are a joy to watch from the moment they enter the stage. The sheer variety of voices they represent is staggering: expect the tooth-rattlingly low and the glass-breakingly high, all wrapped up in a nonstop vocal joyride.
Tone Down For What is not just a show of the same quality that audiences have come to expect from these returning Fringe champions: this year’s edition comes with bells and whistles, including the first successful audience participation exercise in a musical show which didn’t sound like a slowly deflating, middle class balloon. As someone who prefers to sit silently in the back like a rock with great taste in theatre, I’m deeply skeptical of audience participation at the best of times: but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t the only time I’ve been happy to be part of one of those wild experiments in awkward enthusiasm.
The evolution of The Accidentals this year seem to run deeper than superficiality: things have taken a wickedly feminist turn, and tonally, it couldn’t have been done better. It’s hard to address the inequality of perceived competency between male and female singing groups, especially without dragging what would otherwise be a lighthearted show into preachy seriousness, but The Accidentals pull it off flawlessly – it’s cheeky, it’s defiant and unapologetically mocking.
Of course, the preceding points would be moot without the vocals to back them up, and this show doesn’t disappoint. A personal shout-out goes to Ruth Kroch, whose rapping sans mic was both impressive and powerful, despite the looming possibility of being drowned out by the note-perfect vocals of her peers; and also to Steph Boyle – hearing the sheer brute force of the voice coming out of such a small woman is like watching a pea-shooter fire ICBMs. But I cannot stress enough that each and every performer in this group is one to watch. Tone Down for What is an ensemble piece in its purest and most brilliant form, even down to the tongue in cheek comedy. If you’re looking to get blown away by the power of the female voice, this would be the place to do it.
A few quite noticeable tech fumbles notwithstanding, I couldn’t see a misstep on stage. For an opening night, that’s really impressive. The only real criticism I could find with the show is that it reminded me how bitter I am about the fact their version of “Who Did That To You” isn’t available on Spotify.
Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 15 August)
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