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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Jacques Brel in Song and Dance

Christine Bovill and Heels Over Head Dance Theatre (HHDT)

Genre: Burlesque, Cabaret


Institut français d'Ecosse


Low Down

 A skip and stroll through the music of Jacques Brel in the company of fine singer Christine Bovill, dancer Agathe Girard and two accomplished musicians in the shape of Dmytro Morykit on piano and Lizy Stirrat on accordion.


"You may not think that you know the music of Jacques Brel but you do " said the mother in front of me to her son and she has a point.

I hold my hand up as a lover of all things Brel and find his music so universally adaptable that virtually any interpretation has merit.

In an upstairs room of the Institut Francais we are led in to the music of Dmytro Morykit on piano and Lizy Stirrat on accordion.Both fine musicians and as the show starts images of Paris  are projected onto the screen at the rear of the stage. These provide superb accompaniment for the vocals of Christine Bovill. Smokey, sultry and overall a fine interpreter of Brel’s music all of which puts me in a great mood as this show starts.  I particularly enjoyed Christine’s versions of the standards Sons Of and Amsterdam.

Agathe Girard is a contemporary dancer and seems an adequate one from what I saw in the small space she had to work with. My issue is what the dance element actually bought to the show. On most songs Christine’s vocals were fabulous and having someone interpret these in dance took away from the strength of the music and vocals.

Occasionally the vocal and dance worked well together such as in Le Moribond (or Seasons in the Sun as we mostly know it) where the loss of a loved one was portrayed in a very tender, beautiful way.

Conversely ithe heart-rending  Au Suivant here given an almost clown like dance for the young soldier.and Les Bourgeois with no vocals from Christine and instead delivered as an unrecognisable skit with Agathe portraying all the characters did not work at all.

Overall this show is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon but I can’t help wishing that like many of Brel’s songs it would have benefited from the simplicity of letting the music and lyrics just speak for themselves  



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