Friday, 14 February 2020

Somebody Loves Me : The Songs of Gershwin - Album Launch

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Friederike Krum, one of Germany’s finest mezzo-sopranos captivated a Ronnie Scott’s audience with a handful of the composer’s classic numbers to launch her album.

Assuming an improvised, off the cuff jazz style, there was but the tiniest hint of restraint as Krum delivered a delicious take on some of the last century's most beautiful songs. Displaying a modest playfulness with the audience as she performed the album's title track, Krum went on to shine in her closing rendition of Summertime, sung in its originally intended operatic style. This wonderful ending to a very modest set allowed Krum to highlight the beauty of Gershwin’s music and her ability to bridge the gap between classical and jazz through powerful, perfectly nuanced vocals. On piano, James Pearson’s accompaniment was sublime. His riffs, while never overshadowing the vocals, inserted just the right level of both gravitas and jauntiness to the occasion.

Krum's album will complement any collection of jazz recordings.  of stunning songs, beautifully sung.

Written by Dina Gitlin-Leigh

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Faustus: That Damned Woman - Review

Lyric Hammersmith, London


Written by Chris Bush
Directed by Caroline Byrne

Jodie McNee

Life imitates art with the opening of Chris Bush’s latest play Faustus: That Damned Woman at the Lyric Hammersmith. For where the original tale saw Dr Faust bargain with the Devil to exchange his soul for all worldly knowledge – so here does Bush seek to swap the classic parable for a feminist-angled perspective that fails to hit its target.

There is fine work from Jodie McNee as Johanna Faustus and an equally enchanting turn from Danny Lee Wynter’s diabolical Mephistopheles. But as Ms Faustus seals her pact, and in the future encounters Marie (Curie) played by Alicia Charles, we see Bush scoring the most spectacular own goal. For rather than Curie’s achievements being celebrated for the (true) heroine that she was in her scientific discoveries, Bush relegates her to little more than a sidekick to husband Pierre (Tim Samuels) and where Marie could have been portrayed as a strong, smart and independent woman, Bush and director Caroline Byrne reduce her to little more than a spouse who is both humble and scared. This shallowness of perspective clouds the whole piece, and while there may be some wit in Bush’s words, it is overshadowed by a disappointing structure that sidelines real, factual female achievement in praise of the patriarchy.

The set and costume designs from Ana Inés Jabares-Pita and Line Bech impress, but not enough to avert a disappointing evening.

Faustus: That Damned Woman is a Lyric Hammersmith Theatre and Headlong co-production, in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
Playing at the Lyric Hammersmith until 22nd February before playing at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 24th February and then touring the UK, visiting Bristol Old Vic, Leeds Playhouse and Northern Stage throughout March and April 2020.

Photo credit: Manuel Harlan