After celebrating 30 years of Fascinating Aïda, Dillie Keane is taking a short break from her fellow females to bring audiences around the country her solo show, written by her and Aïda member Adèle Anderson, which premiered to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year.

Dillie shares her thoughts on the show with us, ahead of her appearance at the Henley Festival tomorrow, July 9. 

How would you sum up your solo show?

It’s a lifetime distilled into a cabaret show. It’s quite sad and quite funny – well, very funny at times – and it’s a lifetime of looking for love. It’s songs with stories and it’s very, very personal indeed, unlike Fascinating Aïda which more takes pot shots at things.

This is a very personal journey, although I hate to use the word ‘journey’ – it sounds like I’m about to say ‘I’ll reach out’ in a minute. But it’s my story through song, some very old songs and one or two that are brand new.

What has influenced your song choices for the show?

They chose themselves. It was such an easy show to put together and it was a lovely show to put together too because I just sort of shook everything and it all fell into place.

What made you decide to go it alone this time?

Adèle Anderson who co-wrote the show decided she wanted to go on holiday to North Korea and other things so we decided we’d have three months off from Fascinating Aïda. But I’m not very good with time off; I don’t like it so I decided I’d do a solo show.

Then what happened is Adèle was diagnosed with cancer and ended up in hospital instead of North Korea so basically she had to take the rest of 2015 off and most of this year too until she gets fit and strong and clear and everything. I can only describe that as ‘a bugger’ and my little solo show, which was only meant to occupy me for three months, has suddenly grown.

My producers loved it and said: ‘We think you ought to do this more and people ought to see it because it’s a lovely show’ so I’m taking it around the country and I’m taking it to New York, to a wonderful theatre complex called 59E59 on the Upper East Side.

You probably get asked this a lot but does the show mark the end of Fascinating Aïda?

I hope not, no. It would be very hard to go on without Adèle. We’ve been together for 32 years.

Is it lonely being on stage without Adèle and Liza Pulman?

We’ve always had solo moments in a show so it’s fine, but what I did find odd was doing pantomime and not seeing the others backstage. It’s more than just about being on stage together – it’s about a whole life. Liza came to see the pantomime one night and it was such a relief to be in the dressing room with her.

How much of the show is scripted and how much will be ad-libbed?

It’s all scripted. I’m not an ad-libber by nature. I’ll ad-lib if something very funny happens or something occurs to me; of course I’ll throw something in. But often as not it’s a scripted show and as audience member I like to know that the guys I’m paying to see know what they’re doing.

There are some people out there who are brilliant at improvisation but I’m not one of them and they are rare.

Do you encourage audience participation or forbid it?

It’s not that kind of show so I don’t have to forbid it or encourage it. There’s a little bit where I get people to simulate tap dancing but people aren’t usually tempted to participate. It’s very private and personal and if anybody wanted to join in then they’re at the wrong show.

What’s the one thing you have to have with you when you’re on the road?

I suppose the obvious answer is make-up! The audience doesn’t want to look at me unmade-up – it’s a horrible sight.

And what do you have to have on your dressing room rider?

Nothing. I’m far too practical, as are my Fascinating Aïda colleagues. The minute we realised that we got charged for everything that’s on the rider we stopped having one. If you put a £40 bottle of Dom Perignon on there it’ll cost you £70 because they have to send someone to buy it so I’d much rather bring my own. My only specification is that I have to have a lockable dressing room because I’ve been robbed too many times.

What are your pre and post show routines?

I’m not really particularly habit-formed. I put my make-up on, do my hair and go on stage, then I come off stage, take my make-up off and go to bed. It’s very boring. I have a phenomenally boring life.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?

Somebody once accused me of having an artichoke in my hair. I was most upset. It was a rather attractive flower on a clip and it looked lovely.

Who or what makes you laugh?

Miranda is terribly funny. She’s marvellous. And from the past it’s people like Fats Waller – people who did funny things with music. Rossini is another one. He wrote the funniest tunes and he understood better than anybody else in the history of music how to write a comic tune.

When it comes to comedy is there a line you wouldn’t cross?

You don’t know until you get there really. There are obvious lines you wouldn’t cross, like paedophilia, but they’d be known by the audience.

What do you hope audiences will take away from your solo show?

Er, their handbags and their coats and I’m just hoping they’re not robbed by fellow audience members. No, I’d like them to have the feeling of having had a really good evening and having spent their money wisely. That’s really important to me – that people have a really good time.

Dillie will perform her one-woman show at The Salon Comedy Club, Saturday, July 9 at 7.30pm. Henley Festival, on the riverbanks, Henley on Thames. The festival runs until Sunday, July 10. Details: 01491 843400