EdFringe 2021 Review: Tropicana ★★★★★

Aidan Sadler delivers a euphoric camp spectacle in their eighties-flavoured queer cabaret. Aidan, with all the panache and skill of a Fringe veteran, is surprisingly making their debut with Tropicana which runs at theSpace Triplex as part of this year’s Edinburgh Festival. In a line-up that is surprisingly sparse on cabaret, Aidan is a ray of light bringing biting humour, immaculately performed renditions of beloved eighties pop hits, and numerous delightfully camp moments of intelligent staging.

Aidan notes that ‘Tropicana is the future of queer comedy cabaret’ and they make a sterling case for this in an hour long set that blends electrifying eighties pop from Spandau Ballet, ABC, and The Human League with sharp musings on the gender binary, interfering landlords and the concept of a gay war. Flitting between these concepts and musical numbers with an infectious charm, it is a challenge not to be won over by the buoyant and euphoric energy of Aidan and his camp paradise Tropicana.

As Aidan bursts out onto the stage in a silvery grey satin suit, an outfit that encapsulates the neon-tinged, high-octane energy of the show, they delve into numerous pop favourites destined to have audiences tapping toes or singing through facemasks. Not content with simply delivering these polished renditions of beloved synthpop classics, Aidan injects each number with some fun-gimmicks, highlighting their finesse as a performer. Spandau Ballet’s Gold is elevated in pure camp fashion with the littering of sparkling confetti from shoes and pockets, The Human League’s Don’t You Want Me does not simply stand as eighties pop gem – it also serves to “dismantle the gender binary” thanks to an expected costume change, whilst ABC’s The Look of Love benefits from some punchy audience eye-contact. Other eighties pop standards that Aidan takes on include Spandau Ballet’s To Cut a Long Story Short, aHa’s Take On Me, and WHAM’s Club Tropicana, of course.

Spliced between these musical numbers, Aidan tackles a number of wrongs that they see in the world. Dreaded ‘ASOS gays’ get put in the firing line (albeit not being the strongest comic moment of Tropicana), whilst Aidan also discusses the problematic opinions of Morrisey before delivering some sharp, witty takes on the dynamics of a potential ‘gay war’. An amusing story involving interactions with straight male landlords is delivered with a sparkling charm, whilst reminding us that this is a refreshingly queer slice of cabaret.

Some surprising heart precedes a rousing rendition of Club Tropicana as Aidan closes the show by sharing the difficulties of the past year. A testament of a true performer, Aidan has their audience with them throughout the whole journey whether performing a beloved pop classic, sharing an acerbic anecdote, or opening up for a vulnerable admission about their mental health.

Tropicana is a delightful slice of queer cabaret, with Aidan bringing an almighty euphoric energy to the fold. The performer charms with their vocal ability and musical swagger, yet proves equally endearing when delving into sharp anecdotes or personal revelations. Tropicana is pure heaven.

Tropicana plays at theSpaceUK’s Triplex until the 21st of August. Get tickets here.