Review: Cherry and Blossom, The Girls Can’t Help It
GRACE RIGG is sure TOBY PARKER REES missed out on a night you should try and catch.
Tuesday 2nd – Saturday 6th, 9.30 at the Corpus Playrooms.
GRACE RIGG is very impressed:
I’m glad these girls can’t help it, for these girls are bloody good. Publicized as “a whirlwind tour of musical treats from days gone by…” this show is refreshingly unpretentious, simple and enjoyable. The performance’s two characters; Cherry and Blossoms, sing their way through the 20s/30s/40s/50s/60s with such classics as Cole Porter’s “Lets Misbehave” and Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I do”.
As I walked into the strange L shaped space that is Corpus Playrooms I felt at home. The stage was exactly how I want my house to be; a cluttered, eclectic mix of furniture and objects which somehow ends up looking elegant and stylish. I fear my house will just be cluttered. It was so refreshing to walk into a space that so much thought and effort had gone into, all too often my interest is only ignited when the performers appear. I was slightly worried that the performers wouldn’t be able to match the quality of the staging, that the integrity of the set would be lost as the songs we ruined by modern interpretations.
Concern was not needed as both Eve Rosato and Emily-Jane Swanson were excellent performers and very believable as the studiously prim Cherry and dappy Blossom. The chemistry between the two was sparky, funny and had an underpinning of genuine warmth. The characters balanced each other out and played to the performers strengths. Swanson played the ditsy, charming, innocent Blossom and Rosato played the stronger, worldy but equally flawed Cherry. Rosato put in a sterling performance, staying perfectly in character (despite slight wobble on the accent) and boy that girls got some lungs! I was amazed, her pitch never faltered and the tone of her voice was so strong and penetrating. Swanson put in a fine show also, a sweeter, less ballsy voice and performance in general but a good match for Rosato.
Broadway Baby showed off Rosato’s voice to the fullest and also her quality as an actress. She was totally believable as a desperate singer who just can’t get spotted. Wish Me Luck was a personal favourite, as I adore comedienne Gracie Fields who originally made it famous, the girls did it justice. Papa love Mambo was the number where Swanson shone. Her attempt at sex appeal was hilarious, her proud face at the end of the song made my night. The whole performance was constructed cleverly; a neat little narrative linked all 15 numbers smoothly, with an acknowledgement that they were singing, none of that cringey musical thing where they just suddenly start singing. I must also mention the smooth and flawless technical skills of Sarah Bartley. The intermission was brilliantly funny, something to look forward to. That sounds rude but you’ll understand when you go- and you should go.
This show is something different from the norm in the Cambridge theatre scene. A fun-filled night which will make you nostalgic for eras you never got to enjoy first hand. These girls have talent and know how to use it.
TOBY PARKER REES tries to make it to the first night.
This is not, I am afraid, going to be a review. I am as bored as you are of reviews by people who’d rather be columnists (mercifully in short supply in this venerable publication). But time makes wankers of us all.
I got into town in what can only be described as excellent time – so early that I felt able to do a little idle grocery shopping in Sainsbury’s. This decision I would give one star. I was so excited by the rare experience of not being late that I was propelled into a nirvana-like trance; things vibrated into my basket that I have no conceivable use for. Vegetables I could never comfortably peel, magazines I could never conscionably read. Unfortunately once I had floated to the till these vibrations eventually took a turn, and eight cans of Guinness exploded across the floor.
I left Sainsbury’s to the drenched howls of a cadre of cashiers, my feet and ankles foaming bemusedly.
The benevolent gentleman in the Arts Theatre box office could smell what I had done. It is testament to his benevolence that he made no comment on the matter, however, and handed over my tickets as though proffering much-needed subutex. I walked up to the doors of the Playroom, unaware of how much time had passed. They were locked, which led me and my companion, an aspiring detective with the subdued disappointment characteristic of all my long-time friends, to deduce that the amount of time that had passed was quite considerable. Ruining a section of Sainsbury’s is not as uncomplicatedly brief as it seems within the moment.
So we stood outside for a while, and listened to Emily-Jane Swanson and Eve Rosato’s muffled, yet undeniably dulcet tones through the letterbox like aesthete urchins. From what I could tell it was very well done, and their projection is to be commended – we heard every word. The conceit, an early 20th century cabaret as I understand it, actually survived the unfortunate circumstances of my attendance. It was as though I had returned, wounded and penniless, from the Great War, to warm my cockles outside a music hall. My damp and fingerless gloves no doubt contributed to this effect, but it was largely the production. Both singers have a pleasing combination of delicacy and depth to their voices, which combined with a rich sense of character to create something at once hauntingly distant and vitally present.
Of course there was much that I am unable to judge, but the publicity indicates a keen and sensitive eye for sumptuous period detail in the costumes and set, so I have no doubt that the visuals are up to scratch. Fundamentally, a piece which can be enjoyed from outside, with stout-sticky feet and chilblained extremities, is surely deserving of five stars. Go and see this. And please tell me what it’s like.