Brighton Fringe 2012
Sam Devereaux has written and performed this powerful take on fading stardom in a show that combined monologue and music.
I saw this show last year at the Caroline of Brunswick and gave it a three star review. It was a show with potential. A show in need of a director. A show in need of sharpening up. Sam Devereaux had created a strongly defined character, a fading star and we are given intimate access to his dressing room prior to taking, once again, to the Las Vegas stage.
So we are back. And Sam Devereux is back as well, this time at the Jive Monkey. And Sam has developed the show. It is now the show is right where it needs to be, and still on a journey to somewhere outstanding. It is almost there.
This is the story of a rock star who finally gets to say what he’s wanted to say for a very long time.
A fading singer megastar, fading fast, and this all takes place before he goes on stage, again as he has done for so many years, ready to play in front of his remaining hard core fans who expect nothing more than the same again and again. He has his whiskey, his inhaler and his memories for company.
Devereux inhabits the stage and the character very well. This is the beer bellied "king" in white vest and underpants has clear parallels with The King himself, but Devereaux has defined this particular character well enough for this not to be some kind of dark tribute play.
A cocktail of itransforms him into the stage-ready icon and this is a powerful bit of theatre. When he steps into the lights a dark irony infuses the strong singing and the pain comes through the style of singing. There’s a lot of subtlety here – this is no caricature.
We get a piece of the gig itself which follows the dressing room reflections and the bathos is well crafted. The ageing star, youthful yet out of breath and drugged up and then the veil lifts on the stage and the raw real human steps forward and confesses. Affecting theatre, delivered with full blooded commitment by Devereaux. There’s no caricature here – we gave a character created and portrayed with texture and a lot of simple gestures and mannerisms. We move from meeting a disagreeable person, to encountering his humanity and honesty, to feeling for him, even caring for him. And it is through his music that both the tragedy and beauty of ‘Charlie’s blues’ catches the heart’s fire. A study if the pain of stardom, the price of fame, and the joys and dangers of the road.
Sam can act and he can also sing. His accent skill lends believability to the part and there’s scope to develop this yet further. Occasionally there’s a clumsiness in the pacing.
I still believe it has another notch to achieve towards outstanding but I’m more than happy to highly recommend this gripping, touching, sad and harshly funny in places piece of theatre.