That Deadly Noir Magic

Aug 24 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✩✩   More deadly than magic

Greenside @ Nicolson Square (Venue 209): Mon 17 – Sat 29 Aug 2015

Dani Iannarelli’s love letter to film noir and jazz combines film clips, music and a noirish plot. The outcome is too confused to be a success, although parts of the performance are very enjoyable indeed.

Edinburgh-based Iannarelli wrote and stars in the show, whose plot is sketchy in the extreme. Characters are called Angel Cake and The Cheese, simply in order to provide a string of groan-inducing puns.

TDNM 1The clips from classic film noirs such as Double Indemnity and The Big Sleep seem to be intended to dovetail into the story, but this is done in a half-hearted and confused way. It cannot help evoking the technique of Steve Martin’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, a comparison that does no-one any favours.

There are also voice-overs describing the techniques and characteristics of film noir that slow things down, and detract from the rest of the show rather than adding to it.

Repeatedly, Iannarelli bursts into song, introduced by throwaway ‘and then I was on Green Dolphin Street’-type remarks that make slightly more sense, but still fail to achieve any kind of coherence.

It is all very well to include special pleading in the programme about how the show was put together with ‘simple light-hearted honesty’ and ‘does not pretend in the slightest to be serious playwriting’ when those reading the comments will already have paid for their tickets.

a knack for phrasing

In truth, such an insistence is not strictly necessary as there is real entertainment to be had here, largely from the musical content that saves an otherwise very short and ill-thought-through show. Iannarelli may not be the world’s showiest singer, but he stays within his range cleverly and has a knack for phrasing that helps put the emotion of the lyrics across.

He is helped immensely by his backing trio – Erik Lars Hansen’s supple bass and Fraser Urquhart’s adaptable, generous keyboards provide very fine support. Best of all, blowing up a storm on trumpet is Colin Steele, undoubtedly one of Scotland’s most interesting musicians and finest composers, recently returned to performing after a prolonged absence.

Director Rita Henderson endeavours to get some variety out of the performance, and Iannarelli moves around the stage like the dancer he obviously is. Overall, there is talent on show here, but not sufficient idea what to do with it. An extra star for Steele, and the hope that a stronger guiding hand might help Iannarelli out in future.

Running time 45 minutes
Greenside @ Nicolson Square (Venue 209), 25 Nicolson Square, EH8 9BX
Monday 17 – Saturday 29 August 2015
Daily (not Sun) at 8.50 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Dani Iannarelli website:


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