So here's Strangely Flamboyant in a nutshell: the opening number is a mash-up of Take Me Out, the Death March, and Staying Alive, all played on an accordion accompanied by a ukulele. Still interested? Good. This self-consciously wacky cabaret show lacks a little focus, but it's energetic and a lot of fun to witness, all the same.
The show is a partnership between "Strangely", who's a giant of a man with an accordion strapped to his chest, and the pint-sized Claire Healey – who we have to assume is the flamboyant one. The physical mismatch between the pair is funny in itself, and opens the way at one point to a genuinely impressive circus-style routine; rarely has an instrument been wielded with such chutzpah while your fellow performer is dangling you upside-down. The duo have neatly contrasting stage personalities too, with the ever-effervescent Claire often lifting the mood of the quieter, more lugubrious Strangely.
There's no particular theme to the songs and patter which make up this show, but there are a couple of memorable set-pieces. One early highlight sees Strangely embark on a series of musical film reviews; Claire just doesn't quite get it, with genuinely hilarious consequences. I also much enjoyed the head-banging final number, where they rock out Sweet Venues with the incongruous aid of Claire's ukulele.
What's most memorable about their act, however, is how willing they are to get in among the audience, and involve the whole crowd with the show. At times, the interactive segments border on the bizarre – never before have I been invited to assist with lacing a performer's shoes – but it's all good fun, and the simple device of splitting the audience into his-and-hers teams helps build an immediate rapport. A clever segment involving handbells is a nice diversion too, and I can only hope it was as much fun to watch as I had taking part in it.
On the night I attended, the audience were magnificently up for every moment of this. Even in such a friendly environment, though, the show could have done with being far tighter; there was little drive forward, and the consistent missed beats grew wearing after a while. There's a difference between seeming thrown-together and being thrown-together, and – well – let's just say I have my suspicions about which camp this particular show falls into.
But it's funny and endearing and highly entertaining, and in the end, perhaps that's all anyone can ask for. It's delivered with love, and a heart-lifting sense of fun. I hope there'll be anther slice of strange flamboyance next year.