Yes, the title is not a misprint. Last night at The Fringe I went to see Stitch in Time: A Knitting Cabaret. You might wonder what would make anyone go see a show on knitting. I have a two word answer. Melanie Gall. I enjoy any type of show that involves good singing, and Ms. Gall is a very good singer. She is my can’t miss performer when it comes to The Fringe.
Beyond her singing Ms. Gall’s approach to her subject matter helps to set her shows apart. Surprising as it may seem, songs about knitting could be open to ridicule. Yet Ms. Gall treats them for what they are historical artifacts from a bygone era. It should be noted also, that all the songs in the show are real songs about knitting. At one point in the show Ms. Gall stated that she had now collected almost 100 different songs.
Stitch in Time: Show Times
Throughout the show Ms. Gall interweaves her own story with the stories of these knitting songs. Among other things this allows for a certain amount of ironic distance in the show, while keeping it out of the performances of the songs.
There are a lot of laughs in the show. Not so much that you are left in, uh, stitches, but you will find yourself consistently amused. Many of the songs are from the Tin Pan Alley era of songwriting, and have an easy wit about them. Although, you do wish some of them had a thesaurus to find something other than kitten to rhyme with mitten.
One of the intriguing elements of knitting songs is that they are a product of wartime, when knitting was seen as a woman’s and even a occasionally a man’s patriotic duty. Even Glenn Miller, reluctantly, wrote a knitting song (I guess everyone was knitting after dinner on The Chattanooga Choo-Choo).
One of the things that Stitch in Time does is bring an appreciation and dignity to a much overlooked element of life on the home front. This is particularly notable in the ballads. It would be easy to allow these to become treacly, but Ms. Gall endows them with a real humanity.
If you haven’t guessed by now. Stitch in Time is most definitely must-see Fringe.