Piaf Theater Review: Camille O’Sullivan captures Édith’s edgy aura but the script doesn’t fit

Édith Piaf becomes the representative of a certain kind of exotic French music, her world-seduction songs are the product of her gritty life, so get a theatrical view of life. That life is an attractive prospect. The show begins with a scene of young Édith singing in the streets of Paris, performed by Zara Devlin with the rudeness of the victorious hedgehog.

Scenes from street life between prostitutes and petty criminals are played with a Dublin accent — a bit confusing at first, but you’ll get used to it. Édith grew up, taking the stage name Piaf (meaning sparrow), Camille O’Sullivan took on the role. The story builds as the Gestapo and World War II come and go.

But by the time we got to the second half, the dramatic momentum dropped and the show became too reliant on songs. Writer Pam Gems didn’t find a clever solution to the challenge of distilling a lifetime in one evening. The episodic quality of the script was an issue and the show became repetitive.

Aoife Mulholland brilliantly plays Marlene Dietrich, whose first issue was performed in the aisles of the Gate auditorium, connecting directly with the audience and patting a few men on the head. Kate Gilmore, as Toine’s lifelong friend, also made an impact. But most of the characters turn on and off quickly, can’t set much reality. A bunch of talented actors have very few roles as they try to create a series of lovers, managers, husbands.

Des Kennedy’s direction is spiritual. When grappling with the multi-episode form of the show, he tries to smooth things out using multiple revolving stages and swinging curtains. But he is fighting a losing battle with a scenario that seems structurally incurable. Catherine Fay’s clothes are oddly ugly, faithful to their origins that are valued more than style. Doesn’t have that Parisian glam feel.

A great performance by O’Sullivan shines brightly from the heart of this awkward show. Her voice, with its raspy highs, shows something of Piaf’s sharp charisma. Her performance is superb, showing the stubborn complexity of a woman trying to control her destiny while struggling with drug addiction and compulsive romantic desires. Worth a look for this performance gem, but unfortunately the gem doesn’t have a more favorable backdrop.

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/theatre-arts/piaf-theatre-review-camille-osullivan-captures-ediths-edgy-charisma-but-script-fails-to-sing-42214071.html Piaf Theater Review: Camille O’Sullivan captures Édith’s edgy aura but the script doesn’t fit

Fry Electronics Team

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