Lucy McCormick @ Pleasance Courtyard

Lucy McCormick returns to the Fringe with a spellbinding new show. All hail the queen of alt gay cabaret – and her bid to sell-out

Review by Emma Sullivan | 21 Aug 2023
  • Lucy and Friends

Lucy McCormick has quite the canonical status at the Fringe. Most of the audience know what they’ve let themselves in for; not everyone, mind, and there are some genuine gasps of shock (there is one particular feat of gross-out that’s audacious even by her standards). After the historical re-enactments of her last show, she’s decided to pare things back – just her and her friends doing what they do best. Small problem: no friends. And that’s where we come in.

We’re given a song sheet, and key roles are assigned: Mother, Agent, Reviewer (um). The structure is deliberately negligible, as McCormick plays off a series of bad puns (the last, the name of her alter ego, is a gem), interspersed with the obligatory torch songs, which she belts out with her usual style and skill. The show has no theme and no message, and feels almost radically arbitrary (that kind of interpretation, though, is precisely what she sends up via the Reviewer). It’s a stripped-down showcase of all the key McCormick tropes: nudity, flagrant narcissism, performative vulnerability, opportunism and massive amounts of mess. It's also very, very funny. And in a backhanded fashion, it actually does showcase the sense of collectivity her Arts Council funding requires.

Emoting to What's Up by 4 Non Blondes, she saves the best micro-aggression (maybe macro, actually) until last, and as with everything else, we lap it up. All hail the queen of alt gay cabaret – shameless, unhinged, and quite brilliant. 

Lucy and Friends, Pleasance Courtyard (Forth), until 23 Aug (not 21), 5.20pm, £15-16.50