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The Ruby Dolls – Fabulous Creatures

Shoreditch Town Hall, London

This show is an absolute delight. Described as a cross between Mansfield Park, Mary Poppins, and Britain’s Got Talent, it is being developed to premier at the Edinburgh Festival. It is still rough around the edges but, with some fine tuning, it will be a smash there.

The Ruby Dolls greet the audience as we take our seats and the atmosphere is cabaret rather than formal theatre. The story that unfolds is impossible to reduce to a simple plot line but it is partly an inter-species love story, partly a parody of current reality culture, and partly a feminist myth. Without giving the central joke away – or suggesting that it a po-faced morality tale – the show does have a message about identity and liberation. But the best thing about the evening is that the show is full of sharp jokes and of good songs, well sung. There is a great song about all the different names for ‘woman’ and I won’t forget the idea of the suffragoats in a hurry.

The Ruby Dolls are clearly a team that loves working together and this shows both in their comic timing and in some great close harmony singing. The Dolls are best when singing together and, in the rather unfriendly acoustic at Shoreditch Town Hall, not all the individual songs came across as well as they need to. One song in particular – almost a Gilbert and Sullivan patter song – misfired because not all the words were clear. Those that were fully audible suggested a song full of witty words and good jokes. Jessica Sedler and Susanna Fiore as the ‘mismatched’ lovers were outstanding, both singers of real talent. Rebecca Shanks played the fairy goatmother with sweetness and mischief and Tara Siddall played the moustache-twirling Uncle Bastard to the hilt – I loved her ‘over the top’ wicked laugh. The Britain’s Goat Talent finale hit loads of targets with a fine mixture of sweet and sour wit.

This show is already full of good things and totally enjoyable as it is now. I would love to see the final product in Edinburgh at the end of the month. If you are going to be there, put it at the top of your ‘must-see’ list.

  • Narrative Cabaret
  • By Abigail Burdess
  • Director: Dominic Burdess
  • Music: Benjamin Cox
  • Cast: Jessica Sedler, Susanna Fiore, Rebecca Shanks, and Tara Siddall
  • Shoreditch Town Hall, London
  • Until 25th August 2014
  • Time: 19.00
  • Review by Owen Davies
  • 11th July 2014

About The Author

Reviewer (UK)

Owen Davies was brought up in London but has Welsh roots. He was raised on chapel hymns, Handel oratorios and Mozart arias. He began going to the theatre in the 1960s and, as a teenager, used to stand at the back of the Old Vic stalls to watch Olivier's National Theatre productions. He also saw many RSC productions at the Aldwych in the 1960s. At this time he also began to see operas at Covent Garden and developed a love for Mozart, Verdi, and Richard Strauss. After a career as a social worker and a trade union officer, Owen has retired from paid employment but as a 'mature student' he has recently gained a certificate in Opera Studies from Rose Bruford College.​

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