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Alan Cumming: I Bought A Blue Car Today

Published 3 September 2009

Alan Cumming is one of those performers who naturally has a delightfully mischievous look about them.

Yet on the stage of the Vaudeville theatre – or the VO 2 as Cumming refers to it – performing his one-man cabaret show I Bought A Blue Car Today, the naturalised American actor, who has graced both blockbuster movies and acclaimed stage productions, is more subdued.

In simple jeans and a t-shirt, backed by a band and performing against the bare walls of theatre decorated only with a grid of interweaving piping, the audience is treated not to one of Cumming’s memorable characters but to the slightly calmer, slightly more reserved man himself.

This is not to say he isn’t as cheeky as a ruddy faced schoolboy on the first day of term. Taking inspiration from his decade living in the USA, which culminated with him taking citizenship last year, Cumming shares stories about the stars he has met and the faux pas he has made, from leaping out of the shower to find Whoopi Goldberg in his dressing room to accosting America’s most trusted journalist and discovering the most surprising things about one of MGM’s most memorable performers.

It is not all anecdotes about celebrities; Cumming gives much of himself to the show, offering a little insight into the talented performer. Even his choice of songs gives a glimpse into the man behind the performances, and not just because there is a Dolly Parton number among them.

Wig In A Box and Wicked Little Town from Hedwig And The Angry Inch hint at a man who revels in taking on characters rather than being himself, while Every Time We Say Goodbye, when sung by Cumming to the audience, becomes the anthem of a performer who only truly comes alive on the stage.

Maybe I am reading too much into the songs, but Cumming pours so much of himself into each one of them – bristling in Mein Heir, alive with sweet naïve love in Taylor, The Latte Boy – that, without a character for him to play, it is easy and enticing to believe in the reality of the man on the stage and that this irresistible performer is allowing us to get to know the real him just a little.

MA

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