The programme tells us that Frankie (Frances Ruffelle) and Beausy (Norman Bowman) met at a train station in Scotland 26 years ago on Valentine’s Day. We’re not given many other clues as to why they have decided to perform together other than a celebration of their long, loving friendship through songs from Brigadoon to Broadway and from the Highlands to Hollywood. And therein lies the rub with Frankie and Beausy’s cabaret. There simply isn’t a narrative and so, this critic at least, was left a little bewildered as to what these two well established performers were trying to tell us.
Cabaret only works when the artists connect with the audience and I’m afraid on this occasion, they did not. Nor rarely did they seem to connect with each other. It seemed as if they were simply having a bit of a laugh on stage in front of their mates. Sadly, the audience wasn’t in on the joke. The programme was a strange mix of musical theatre classics, torch songs and pop, none of which seemed to link to tell a story.
Undeniably both Frances Ruffelle and Norman Bowman are legitimate stars of the stage but, on this occasion they both fell a little short vocally. There were a couple of highlights – Bowman’s tender rendition of Burt Bacharach’s A House Is Not a Home and Ruffelle’s pitiful interpretation of The Man That Got Away from A Star is Born but I’m afraid the rest of the show felt under-rehearsed and a little self-indulgent. This should have been better.