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Isabelle Georges: ‘Everything is so dark – I try to lift people’s hearts’

Isabelle Georges. Photo: Kriss Logan Isabelle Georges. Photo: Kriss Logan

Cabaret is in the blood for Isabelle Georges, whose grandmother played piano for performers in venues across Paris. She is now at the Edinburgh Fringe for the fourth time with her new show, Oh La La!

Is there anything different about performing in Edinburgh?

What I really love about this festival is this buoyant creativity everywhere. When you perform, you’re on the edge a little bit, because you have not got much time before going on stage. I remember the first time we came, people were all sitting on the right side of the room. And I didn’t understand why until somebody told me that sometimes people get close to the door so if they don’t like it they go away. You have this feeling that you have to be ready – totally, fully ready – because people get to see so many shows, and you have to be different, totally yourself. I think it’s a frightening experience, and also amazing. I don’t like to be secure, I think it’s very interesting to always go for something that scares you a little bit.

Is the show more focused on music or the comedy elements?

I think it’s in-between. There are little jokes. The show is mainly about childhood and war, I don’t know, it just happened that way. The songs are very theatrical, and it’s very cabaret, so I really want to talk to the audience, so there’s not going to be any fourth wall.

Cabaret is often light-hearted as an art form, so how do you tackle the subject of war?

For me, the cabaret I do is not heavy-hearted at all. Every show I do, I always see how you can transcend or go over things that are heavy. That’s what gives me a thrill. Everything is so dark; when you see politics and everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, it’s so heavy. So what I try to do in every show and this one is to lift people’s hearts, and try to give something to look forward to, or see something that is going wrong. But how can you laugh about it, or just turn a little bit and see it from another angle? That’s my goal in all of this. So it’s not heavy. It’s not going to be totally light-hearted either. What I love as a spectator – and as a performer – is when in a show you can have fun, laugh, learn a few things, be totally moved. It’s a journey.

Have you had any particularly memorable moments of audience interaction?

Isabelle Georges cvIt was in Edinburgh. I had a tango with a member of the audience that I was choosing every night, and one day I chose a guy – and I didn’t see it right away – and he only had one arm. I didn’t see it until I started dancing with him. So we danced, and it was completely amazing, and I was like – whoa. At the end of the show the guy came and he said: “Thank you, it was amazing.”

Is it possible to prepare for those unexpected moments?

What I also love about cabaret is that you can’t plan everything. You can plan what you’re going to sing, what you’re going to say, but there is always something going differently in another way. And that’s great. That’s crazy.

Oh La La! runs at Assembly Checkpoint from August 6- 30

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