Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton – until 23 February 2019
An impressive transfer sees one-woman show Songs for Nobodies move into the Ambassadors Theatre from a run last year at Wilton’s Music Hall and it is a striking, if ultimately a little slight, evening. Joanna Murray-Smith’s play links together five vignettes which feature ordinary people – the ‘nobodies’ – who find themselves in the orbit of legendary performers.
And in the hands of Australian performer Bernadette Robinson, we not only get to hear their stories but listen to performances from the stars – Garland, Cline, Piaf, Holiday, Callas – in a truly virtuosic turn that ends on an operatic high. It is a thrilling sensation to watch Robinson switch effortlessly but oh so effectively into these iconic divas and she sounds amazing as all.
Dramatically, the play doesn’t quite have the same impact. The ‘nobodies’ don’t really have enough time to shine in their snippets of stories before we get to the performances and in some cases, seem a little misfocused (the final one leans too much towards Onassis rather than Callas). Simon Phillips’ production wisely keeps its star front and centre though, and the live band sound like a dream throughout.