The Russians of Barcelona

Feb 17, 2015

The Russians invaded Barcelona even before the Fringe Parade had begun!  But don’t worry, it’s not as serious as it sounds.

The Russian characters of this Fringe show are a bunch of ramshackle street musicians who sought their fortune south of the border after the Berlin Wall had been torn down – the scene is Barcelona, 1992.

This fine piece of cabaret is the first fully written effort by well-known South Australian musician Sophia MacRae (pictured above). The musicians on stage aren’t the actual Russians themselves as depicted in the story; they’re still in Barca and their names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Their roles are played by a fine bunch of top Adelaide musicians: Brenton Tregloan (banjo and guitar), Aaron Nash (piano) and Yuri Markov (drums).  Okay, so Yuri is actually Russian, da, but not one of the Russians of the story.  Confused?  Don’t be!

This is good fun, with maybe the odd embellishment of the facts added occasionally to spice things up.  The band pulled it off quite well for an opening night, skillfully covering the odd blemish.  MacRae’s songs are well-crafted and witty as she reveals to us her exploits in Barcelona with the Russians – first joining them on the street busking, before later touring around Spain together in a beat-up old campervan.  Intending to visit for a week, she ended staying for five years.

MacRae is the star of the show, barely taking a breath, as she narrates the story, sings the songs and, just for a break, plays all the solos on tenor and alto sax and clarinet.  Her playing is excellent and her singing very bright as she engages the audience throughout.

Repeat performances will iron out any opening-night bugs; attention to live sound would make it easier to hear all the words and perhaps a stronger ending to the story would be worth considering.  But it’s certainly well worth the $25 admission charge.

The Russians of Barcelona plays again at La Boheme (upstairs) on Feb 20 and 27 and March 6.



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