Alan Cumming’s I Bought A Blue Car Today
Vaudeville Theatre, London
1st September 2009
“I bought a blue car today” was the first sentence that Alan Cumming wrote as an American Citizen as part of his English proficiency test during his naturalisation exam. This profound statement of corporate financial greed is the basis of his cabaret show, talking about his American experience, since arriving for the first time on Broadway in Cabaret at the tender age of 30.
Alan Cumming the A list star and Alan Cumming the man from Aberfeldy, Scotland, blend remarkably well … because in this cabaret you seen Alan as he is. The patter is nice done, very engaging and quite conversational. Cumming reveals much about who he is, his social ineptitude (on meeting Mikhail Baryshnikov for the first time blurted out “You’re a reall good dancer.”), his love for his husband Grant, and the surreal world of the papparazzi that envelopes actualy living breathing human beings. It’s nice to know that he even takes the Tube to rehearsals!
The show starts of with Shine (by Cyndi Lauper), and his nerves were getting the better of him at times. Yes, Alan Cumming nervous. Like all good actors, give him a script and a character and he is on his game, but ask him to be himself and out come the butterflies by the millions. But as Alan settled into the show, there really wqere some remarkable moments.
My favourite was Mein Herr. Cabaret was a show that launched his career in the United States, and he admits that it would be strange to do this cabaret without performing something from this pivotal moment in his career. So he chose a number that he didn’t actually sing. Mein Herr is delivered with a darkness and trepidation.
Of course, I am a big fan of the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, so his mash-up of Wig In A Box and Wicked Little Town were of particular delight. Taylor, The Latte Boy and Thinking of You were deliciously funny ditties bringing a great range of colour to the performance. And Cumming was truly in fine voice.
Sure, this cabaret wasn’t the slickest I’ve seen. There were times when Cumming lost his way through the running order and maybe rambled on a little too long. But I found these elements the most endearing, that here was a man enveloping you into his own personal world and giving you a glimpse at the man behind the star.
I walked in. I laughed. I applauded. I was moved. It was a very jolly night in the theatre. What more can you ask for?