Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Maria Tecce shares songs and a narrative inspired by a picture, realised with power, passion and theatrical skill.
From Tom Waits to Led Zeppelin, and a resounding Maria de Buenos Aires, Maria Tecce brings "Strapless" to the Assembly Rooms, and doesn’t need to remove a stitch of clothing to create a sensual and sometimes dark, always electric performance.
I have seen her "complete stage presence" described elsewhere. What does that really mean? It means she doesn’t simply hold command over the stage, she takes possession of the entire Supper Room at the Assembly, and though, at one point, she is among us in the audience, Tecce doesn’t need to set one toe off the stage in order to make us feel we are amongst her music, and the teasing narrative she weaves around it.
Tecce ranges easily across the emotions and can reach the deeper, almost bass tones that Christine Collister reaches so naturally. Yet, her voice can also reduce to a melodic, minimal yet telling whisper, beguilingly tender and vulnerable. What makes a human being unconquerable is our capacity to be vulnerable, and it is in the quieter moments that the power of this woman can really be felt. Of the many things that mark out the performance, this cabaret, this story, this menu of well chosen numbers, the silences that also characterise courageous and successful theatre performances are also present. Tecce plays with silence very well, and the detail is impressive, a sideways glance, a mischievous smile, a sudden rise to 110% bodily commitment to a line of a song, born of earlier silence. This is physical theatre, served by music. This is music, grounded in the extremes of physical theatre – calm-ocean stillness of a song’s denouement, or a breath between the poetic stanza, and also full-on, energised and audience-energising vocal eruption, always under the control and yet somehow feeling as if at any moment, fire will erupt from her outstretched fingertips, each digit possessed by air and intention.
Yes, it was that good. If I have one complaint it is with the venue. Assembly needs to do better with such performance spaces. This is cabaret of passion and mood light. A paltry effort at a few unadorned cabaret tables at the front, and little or no effort to make the supper room into a cabaret space, it is a testament to the performer’s passion and ability that she punched so easily through the fourth wall and literally compelled us to breathe in the evening’s unfolding events – the music (such a fine and serene backing band), the simple but essential narrative, and the authentic and magical feeling of it all. Sheer power, not of cabaret but of theatre drenched in the essence of musical mastery.