‘A truly virtuosic turn that ends on an operatic high’: SONGS FOR NOBODIES – West End

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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.

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on RssIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."

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