Soho Theatre, London – until 30 December 2017
Guest reviewer: Shaun Dicks
The Soho Theatre invites you to the Sinners Club. We find ourselves in the Upstairs space of this buzzing theatre in the heart of London’s West End. As we walk in we are welcomed by a room set in the round, decorated as an old school recording studio; many an old-fashioned rug, musical instruments and microphones, soundproofing on the wall as well as a few photographs. Scattered around the studio space are members of the band playing light Jazz music to set the mood.
The concept of the album is simple, its based on the story of the last woman to be hanged in the UK. The original songs, written and performed by Lucy Rivers and the band The Bad Mothers, tailored around the story of Ruth Ellis, are an eclectic mix of genres that seem to pulsate through Rivers as they affect her own character narrative as well as the albums. As Rivers enters to start the show, she is this fierce woman in black, taking control of the room. Rivers throughout the show is energetic and intriguing as she goes through the narrative of the concept album.
However, one of her flaws was her reliance on the audience and audience interaction. The reliance on an audience is a double-edged sword dependant on the audience itself, it can be a struggle for an audience to lose inhibitions and join in. Rivers needs to pick her moments and judge the moments when she does or doesn’t interact. Another thing that needs altering within the show is the amount of dead air in-between songs. As a performer myself I appreciate the device of silence but when its long periods, it becomes a period of time for the audience to wander.
Despite these flaws of the show, the music really made it- in a world of music made by computers in the mainstream and the jazz hands of the West End – this was a refreshing use of alternative types of music. The whole band was slick, and looked like they were having fun throughout the show. Rivers’ voice soared throughout, despite her overuse of falsetto. What truly impressed this writer, though, was the musicianship packed within the show. The sheer volume of different instruments used was brilliant and to a very high quality. I personally appreciate musicians and musicianship, having worked with a few myself, so to have a live band and for it performs so well, it really brought a smile to my face.
If you’re looking for something a little different, take up your invitation for the Sinners Club, because despite its flaws, there are many a good aspect of this show to enjoy. This show is the palate cleanser that the West End is craving. Try something different and enjoy a night of music that you will not forget in a hurry.