Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Sudden Collapses in Public Places

Poems by Julia Darling, set to music by David Scott and Neil Blenkinsop and presented as a song cycle
Live Theatre, Newcastle
(2004)

Julia Darling

Julia Darling has breast cancer. This sequence of seventeen poems, set to music by David Scott and Neil Blenkinsop and performed by a six-piece band with actress Zoë Lambert singing, deals with this fact. It does so with - inevitably - a complex mixture of emotions, but with a wry humour never far away.

The composers wisely allow the words to dominate and their heavily jazz-influenced score provides sympathetic support. Sensitively directed by Jeremy Herrin against a filmed backdrop (by Philip Shotton, edited by John Lloyd Fillingham) of an interminable wait in a hospital corridor, Zoë Lambert gives a subtle but clear reading of the piece, allowing the words their full weight and supporting them with underplayed gestures and facial expressions.

The audience was enthusiastic and really wanted the performers to come back onto the stage at the end. They didn't, which was probably exactly the right thing to do, for, in this way, they effaced themselves and the audience's attention was focused where it should be, on the piece itself rather than on the performers.

But is it theatre? the cry goes up. Should it really be reviewed on a theatre website?

The answer to both questions is definitely yes. It's a one-woman music theatre piece, just like, for example, Tell me on a Sunday but - with all due respect to Don Black - with much better lyrics.

Reviewer: Peter Lathan