Live At Zedel, London – until 20 January 2019
This insightful and entertaining show successfully captures the many different elements of Frank Sinatra’s life.
With the name Frank Sinatra, there are so many things you can associate with him including: charisma, smooth, relaxed, the mafia, Ava Gardner and John F. Kennedy on top of being an immensely talented singer.
In Sinatra: Raw, Richard Shelton’s show covers all of these many different parts of Sinatra’s life to mesmerising effect as seen through the variety of stories in which are told throughout, broken by Shelton performing some of his best-known songs.
As a play, it is an immensely detailed psychological look at his life, beautifully performed by Shelton who successfully draws the audience into the show with the help of some playful banter and highlights the singer’s immensely powerful personality.
But while the show begins with great lightheartedness, things do take a different turn as he makes his way through a bottle of Jack Daniels, capturing the darker side of his personality – filled with bitterness and anger at the way the likes of Peter Lawford and Robert Kennedy treated him after John F.Kennedy won the Presidential election or when he was dropped by his record company. It is at moments like these, you get a real sense of just how dangerous a personality he could be if crossed.
Throughout it all, Shelton’s performance is engaging, with the audience unable to take their eyes off him as Sinatra continues to reminisce about his life. But he is equally as impressive vocally capturing Sinatra’s unique style of singing perfectly – particularly when he performs songs such as ‘New York, New York’ and ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’.
Sinatra: Raw doesn’t shy away from the darker moments from Sinatra’s life – with the part in which he discusses his volatile relationship with actress Ava Gardner being particularly corse and vicious. However, coarseness is smoothed out with the sense that Sinatra never really got over her despite the problems in their relationship, with Shelton capturing this perfectly with a deeply sad and lonely expression that surprisingly hits the heart.
This is a show that doesn’t claim that Sinatra was a saint, but it does reveal the fragility of the man behind the swagger, a person who clearly had a deep fear of rejection that manifested it self through anger – shown so clearly through Richard Shelton’s well pitched (in every sense) performance.
Overall, Sinatra: Raw is a mesmerising and fascinating show to watch that offers deep insight into the man behind the singer.
By Emma Clarendon
Sinatra: Raw continues to play until the 20th January.