Joining such legendary musical trios as the Andrews Sisters, the Supremes and Fascinating Aida are the tremendous Trio of Dips. If the result of this week’s election or Game of Thrones’ lacklustre ending (based on my social media feed both seem to have caused equitable ennui) have distressed you, get yourself down to the Butterfly Club where they are lighting up the stage until the end of this week.
Though relatively early into their partnership Alexandra Aldrich, Joachim Coghlan and Christian Gillett have already formed a warm, rich and lovingly hilarious rapport. Their current programme mines every bit of comic potential out of the tragedy and desperation that comes with online dating, sweetening the premise with a dazzling setlist of showtunes. In addition to their musical chops each are formidable actors in their right and as such the songs are elevated by their fearless commitment to the emotional integrity of the songs. Given the richness and scope of their performances they practically demand to be booked into a much larger venue with an audience to match. Special mention must also go to Josh Perillo’s very game cameo performance, which I will not reveal here, but the pairing of gold lame with a certain sexual act possesses a sort of bizarre logic.
The songs that have been selected are a delight, with some inspired choices that have been heightened for ultimate comedic and dramatic pathos. Numbers such as Matchmaker, You could drive a person crazy and Three little maids are natural and predictable inclusions but they are savvier than that and manage to bring fresh perspective and context to songs like Macavity and Dentist (the set up for both these numbers is a thing of beauty) the latter performed with elastic physical comedy by Madame Aldrich and We are women which Messers Coghlan and Gillett manage to make darn near definitive. Mr Coghlan also composed and wrote the lyrics for the very witty title song Trio of Dips; I hope that future productions feature more original music. Ian Andrew provides strong and subtly wry accompaniment. The scripted sections are thankfully economically used to build up to the next number and rarely outstay their welcome.
I have been an admirer of each of these performers previous work individually for some time and the combination of all three is delicious. With such magnetic personalities you might worry that their performances may occasionally eclipse each other’s but their chemistry is as tight as their harmonies with plenty of space for their unique characteristics to shine through.
Joachim Coghlan defies expectation and proves himself to be a remarkably credible ingenue. His sublime tenor is a natural fit for romantic ballads such as I have nothing, and I have a love. Christian Gillett is in full grande dame mode and brings brassy brilliance to songs such as Shy (featuring a hilariously brave costume reveal) and Bring on the men. Alexandra Aldrich possesses a genius for conveying multiple emotions with her face and body; her over the top performances are measured, disciplined and completely in line with the character she has created allowing intriguing glimpses of sadness and darkness to seep through. Her singing voice possesses a singularity reminiscent of Angela Lansbury and Elaine Stritch which is used to delicious effect in Hello little girl and You gotta have a gimmick.
There are several moments however that elevate this performance from laugh out loud hilarity where they allow themselves moments to reveal very real pain and desperation. What makes these moments land with such aplomb are the ways they use comedy to explore the loneliness, confusion and very real pain that comes from trying to make connections in the digital age. From my experience my laughter was relational rather than feeling like any of these wonderfully ridiculous characters was the butt of the joke. Even at their most brazen they possess a grace and dignity which make them loveable.
The theme of the recent Met Gala was Camp and caused much debate about whether many of the looks qualified as camp or merely flamboyant or outlandish. I only wish Alexandra Aldrich’s designs and vision for the costumes had appeared on the red carpet; they have a life force of their own. They are bold, brilliant and distinctive to each of their personalities. As I eased myself into their performances the absurdity of their apparel gave way to a certain glamour and beauty which is quite an accomplishment when you factor in the emoji head dresses.
Congratulations also to ace stage manager Lowana van Dorssen (how could you not admire someone with a name like that) for a smooth, accomplished and well-timed production.
On reflection I seem to be falling over myself to praise Trio of dips; but they are a group whose potential excites me. I feel that these brilliant characters, performances and aesthetic could lend themselves beautifully to increasingly relevant and inspiring iterations. I hope that we have the opportunity to follow their ascendancy. In the meantime I happily suggest making the trip to the Butterfly club before the end of the week for the much needed tonic of laughter, emotional catharsis and an ode to the healing powers of friendship.