Brighton Fringe 2013
"A’Nother Productions presents Miss Givings – a new one-woman play with music about a year in the life of a musical superstar-to-be – with songs by American legends Samuel Barber, Amy Beach, Bernstein, Aaron Copland and the Gershwins."
Written by Robert Cohen, directed by Nicholas Quirke and performed with a strong and charismatic voice by Debbie Bridge who plays Anita Boult, with piano accompaniment by Rachael Fryer, here we are offered diversity of American Song from Aaron Copeland to Leonard Bernstein, linked by a narrative that unravels the central character and her hopes, disappointments, and aspirations.
Gershwin’s The Man that Got Away opens the proceedings. A’Nother Production offers us a diversity of well chosen American from Aaron Copeland to Leonard Bernstein. Written by Robert Cohen, skilfully directed by Nicholas Quirke and performed by Debbie Bridge who plays Anita Boult, Gershwin’s The Man that Got Away opens the proceedings. We are in the company of Anita, singer and aspiring star, dreaming of Broadway.
Essentially this is a story monologue with songs and there’s a good balance struck between Cohen’s conversational script that reminded me in direct style of his Harvey Matusow. The strengths of the piece are the choice of songs, light touch, deft direction and a script that joins up the songs with fluidity, serving the whole piece rather than overshadowing it. Plenty of historical nougats are delivered along the way.
Some of the theatrical link pieces work better than others. Not all of the narrative came across equally well and I think there’s some work to be done here with the flow of the piece.
The style reminds me of the homage movies such as That’s Entertainment but if like to have seen some darker moments. The piece really lit up when Anita stepped and sang among us. I wanted a bit more heartful ‘oomph’ in the piano which was pretty faultless but lacking soul.
Overall this is a genuinely warming piece of musical theatre delivered with skill and panache by Bridge. It stays confident in its calmness and the hour glides by. Debbie Bridge carries off all the well chosen songs. Without microphone she’s raw, real live and spot on.
Nocturne was stupendous and where all elements of the show converged: powerful and poised command of a difficult song, sensitive and economic direction, sandwiched between some enjoyable and playful monologue and breaking down of the fourth wall.