50 Tones of Grey
Grand Theatre,
The Space@Surgeons’ Hall (V53),
Aug 21-26



Four women and five men from Aberdeen University’s A Cappella Society Aberpella tell us they thought they were being terribly witty in choosing the title “50 Tones of Grey” as a reference to the shades of the sky and stone of their university city.

Then of course they realised it happened to evoke a best-selling erotic romance and that provides the cue for 50 minutes of meticulously rehearsed, smoothly sustained a cappella around the theme of modern dating, with rather more family entertainment value than E.L. James’ novel.

As subject-matter, the ups and downs of young love have been something to sing about since time immemorial but this intake of Aberdeen student talent makes it its own with transformative arrangements of absolutely contemporary music.

They take us from the initial, animal excitement of Tinder profiles to desperation, fulfilment, disaster, betrayal and breakup.

It’s at once as light as air and, laugh as we do, it’s an exploration and a tribute to how emotional and intense all this can be.

The joy of a cappella is the pitch-perfect flow of moving parts, so singling anyone out is hardly fair, but a personal favourite was Vic (the performers used first names only), described as a tenor and a soprano, singing “Tears” by Clean Bandit.

If I have a quibble it is with Joshua’s vocal percussion – at first a musical joke, but one that wore slightly thin.  For the rest, we could have carried on listening for hours.

Barbara Lewis © 2017.