Edinburgh Fringe 2013
"Out of Yorkshire via Oz, Damsel in Shining Armour mixes self-deprecating storytelling, music and audience collaboration to witty, moving and elevating effect. Damsel Sophie (‘A new shining star’ (Scotsman) combines her memories of looking for romance in Paris with tongue-in-cheek musings on the meaning of lurve".
Walsh-Harrington uses storytelling with music and a piano accompanist and even some finger puppetry. The set was simple – a fan was the biggest prop. The story is made up of mini supposed romantic interludes and adventures, building up a picture of our heroine as a hopeless dreamer. Our beautiful Damsel is waiting to be rescued by her dashing brave Prince. It’s all about the melodrama!
Walsh-Harrington’s voice was utterly incredible; she stylishly belted out well know ‘melodramatic’ love songs, nicely sliced with abrupt change in moods – the music cuts out and the lights come back onto and she flips back to cute, quaint northern lassie. The lighting was perfectly designed to create the different moods and articulate scene changes. The piano was masterly played and timely – they worked intuitively together.
Her voice was confidently loud, never dropped a note, clean and measured and she either sang to 1/2 of her ability or she was good at making it look easy. She is a talented performer at ease on stage. I loved the interplay of ‘melodramatic’ Romantic ballads, complete with fan assisted hair flying dramatically in the wind moments…switching back hilariously to bright lights and “eh up luv, fancy another cuppa?”. She shows an ability to drop her ego and just have fun on stage and not take herself too seriously, which makes for a very fun and digestible show. Interestingly however as a performer I felt she was capable of so much more, and that this show was a bit of a breeze for her. I may be wrong but it felt a bit like ‘playing safe’.
Her impromptu ‘lap’ dance delighted my Arizonian neighbour who took the straddling with good humour. She confidently connected with the audience. She was genuinely funny; a natural comic and there were lots of laughs.
The first half of the show was delightful, well-paced, with a great introduction to a quirky narrative with breath taking vocals. The vocal quality never dropped but the narrative unravelled – the show itself would benefit from some more attention to the writing and direction to better define her on stage persona. The plot lost its plot and the melodrama lost its momentum…and even with the fun finale – the show lost its shazzle.There was a glimmering moment of starting to connect with a possibility of more interesting and authentic autobiography, which quickly dissipated.
Overall I would recommend seeing this for the talented singing, comedic ability and enjoyable performance, despite the fading script. But I would love to see Walsh-Harrington write more personal stuff and take more risks. I really enjoyed watching this performer and hope to see something bolder and meatier next year with a tighter and more coherent narrative. I think she is capable of holding a much bigger, brighter stage.