Entering the studio we are immediately greeted by the glamorously dressed dolls – a suitably warm welcome from the gracious hosts. We are invited into “the attic”, filled with old, dusty paraphernalia that sparks an exploration into the dolls’ (and the audience’s) ancestors. It’s an appropriate start to the evening which has a homely, old-fashioned, almost wartime feel.
The show is a cabaret act filled with inventive storytelling, incorporating everything from song, dance and monologues to comedy and puppetry. The stories take us around the globe, visiting South Africa, Paris, Italy and (charmingly) the tale of a Jewish tailor. Music is integral to the show, the chanteuses singing in the respective accents and languages and the whole show is commendably underscored by Benjamin Cox on piano. The dolls themselves have a lovely blend of voices that enchant from song to song.
With the focus on the dolls’ own ancestors, there’s a personal feel to the proceedings that’s touchingly played. Yet there’s plenty of humour here too – frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious – and everything is performed to the audience with a knowing wink that keeps things light-hearted. Clearly good friends, the dolls have great rapport with each other – laughing, smouldering and bickering – and often include the audience in their interactions.
The Ruby Dolls are a surprisingly sexy and unique act that deserves a much longer show. Make sure to catch them at the Edinburgh Festival – this act is a little gem worth seeking out.
Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Ed Nightingale.