Theatre: Piaf



The dazzling and brilliantly acted Piaf is now playing at the Vaudeville Theatre after its sellout run at the Donmar Warehouse. It looks great, the songs are great and the performances by everyone including Elena Roger are sensational. Roger may not look like Piaf (hey, who would want to?) but she manages to channel Piaf when she sings that it is a thrill watch. The men in the cast are also quite (phwoaaar!) fit as well which was a little surprising. Many of them could easily play Clark Kent if they were ever going to revive that Superman musical. Obvious in Piaf's day it was important for her men to take their vitamins. Maybe that is why they were such bad drivers... That's all the good stuff about this production...

Now I was supposed to see Piaf back in July with the Whingers, however on that day I was hurling my guts up. After seeing this gritty production where people have sex on the cobblestones (owch) you just want to go into all these gory details. Pam Gems has reworked her original 1978 text for this production which has seen some scenes such as Piaf urinating on stage cut. Still, there are enough utterances of "fuck" and "cunt" to keep reminding you Piaf was a whore from the gutter. Each time a filthy word was said I could hear two little old ladies behind squeal and wheeze. It can be a cruel show... Not just on Piaf but the audience too! But what was worse was that despite all the reworking of this play... It still sucks. Episodic and full of dull dialogue it left me torn between liking the show on the strength of the performances to loathing it due to the script. There were also loads of tricks to jazz up and improve the pacing with lighting and sound effects... But in the end it is a bit hard to hide the fact the story is a dog...

Then again the strong point of this piece has never been the story but always the performance of the actor playing Piaf. It's just to bad that the recent La Vie en Rose managed to show Piaf's life was more than just a series of car accidents and morphine hits. I guess you can't have everything... Still worth checking out and it runs through to January...

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