Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of most loved French icon singer Edith Piaf, the singing play is strong in musical prowess, emotional sensations, and dramatic situations.
Cameron Leigh, in the title role, literally transforms on stage to play and perform “Piaf”. While the English translations of the songs would have best been solely included in the musical repertoire for the sake of clarity and meaningfulness, the live performance of her timeless music is a tour-de-force of energy and feelings, and is just mesmerizing for the audience. With such brilliance, one should not however forget the all fantastically acting, singing, and musical cast, who help portraying the spectacular and turbulent world of the legendary singer.
With a dynamic mise-en-scene, “Piaf” charts her incredible true story and amazing career, alternating larger-than-life dialogues and musical numbers. Coming from a destitute family on both an emotional and material level, ‘the little sparrow’ was quickly noticed basking on the streets of Paris in the 1930s. While the occasional use of French expressions does not add to the authenticity of the play, her background is cleverly rendered through her close friendship with prostitute Toinette and their convincing use of popular language and accent, as well as raucous laughter.
With her sensational rise from the beginning of the Second World War to her devastating fall and early death in the early 1960s, her life was together fantastic and tragic with the heartbreaking death of her soul-mate, famous boxer Marcel Cerdan; her subsequent loneliness and many successive lovers and deceptions; her addiction to drugs; her generous, yet erratic behaviour. She has left an internationally-famous legacy of music, with poignantly autobiographical songs such as “La Vie en Rose”, “Mon Dieu”, “The Three Bells”, and “Bravo pour le Clown”, which rendition in the play is so moving, they really should not be missed.
- By Pam Gems
- Director: Jari Laakso
- Cast: Cameron Leigh, Valerie Cutko, Brian Gilligan, Mal Hall, Zac Hamilton, Philip Murray Warson, Kit Smith, Samantha Spurgin
- Charing Cross Theatre, London
- Until 2 January 2016
- Review by Caroline Perret
- 5 December 2015