It was not the most auspicious opening night of the 3 show season of Cabaret Consultations. Earlier in the day a technician had erased one of the musical arrangements and the crew on sound and image projection virtually missed every cue. So despite the delay waiting for the spiegeltent to open and get all 600 of us seated, 25 minutes later than the advertised 8.45pm start, we were sympathetically inclined towards Dr Ahmed.
Last year’s show was so hysterically funny and in a more intimate venue the following show had a lot to live up to. Paradoxically the larger audience proved far more inhibited responding to Dr Ahmed’s queries and crowd interaction.
The pace was much looser this year. Dr Ahmed spent time on his education, both early and as a medico. Wearing a gown and mortar board he took us through the rigorous years as a young intern. In a clever aside he launched into the fiscal success and prestige of being a dentist.
Billing himself as a musical comedian allowed Dr Ahmed freedom to launch into cleverly re-worded parodies of popular songs every so often. Unfortunately the sound was just slightly too soft and rather muddy so some of the brilliant puns and observations were missed.
Don’t get me wrong – Dr Ahmed has charm by the bucket load. He is an excellent singer and a gifted mover and mime. He moved into familiar funny territory when he re-enacted three alcohol affected patients he examined while in Accident and Emergency.
Disco, rap and hits like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and 9 to 5 received the Dr Ahmed treatment to resounding applause. Donning a golden sequined jacket he camped up a marvellous dance sequence involving 2 female audience members who enthusiastically joined in the routine.
There was a serious segment where he spoke movingly about being involved as a volunteer during the Grenfell tower block fire of 2017, not far from where he was practising as a GP in London.
As a finale Dr Ahmed gave us advice to “Follow our dreams however impossible they might seem.” In fact his own dual career serves as a model.
A rousing and emotive Non Je Regret Rien, beautifully sung in perfectly accented French rounded off the evening.
Worth the wait!
2019 Fringe World Festival presents
Venue: The West Australian Spiegeltent | The Woodside Pleasure Garden, Russell Square, James St, Northbridge, WA
Dates: 18-20 January 2019
Tickets: $44 – $34