Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly ****

By Finegan Kruckemeyer
By Theatre Lovett (Ireland) 
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, 
Public shows: Sat 9 Aug & Sun 10 Aug, 11.30am & 1pm. (Schools shows 5-8 Aug)  
Reviewer: Kate Herbert  
Stars: ****

 Review also published  in Herald Sun online, Aug 7, 2014 and later in print. KH
 Louis Lovett pic by Pat Redmond

Engaging an audience of children in the theatre is a delicate art and Louis Lovett’s solo show, The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly, does it with style and humour.

Lovett, an award-winning performer visiting Melbourne from Ireland, populates the stage with eccentric characters in this bittersweet, adventure tale about Peggy O’Hegarty and her parents.

Peggy and her shrill, deaf mother and patient father, run a business as packers; they pack small stuff into bigger stuff, such as putting foxes into boxes.

This production, directed by Lyne Parker, is deceptively simple, but Lovett’s skills are complex and include vivid storytelling, goofy clowning, bold characterisation, melodic singing and evoking an elaborate landscape through mime.

One of his exceptional skills is to effortlessly and imperceptibly draw the children into unexpected participation so that they automatically fill in the blanks in his dialogue, remind him to finish the play, call out helpful hints or clap a rhythm for his dancing without any prompting.

The script, written by Hobart playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer, cleverly weaves Peggy’s narrative, starting with Lovett outlining the characters and events to come, and even warning us about a tragedy and a bloody scene.

The tale combines a dark, haunting quality with a bright, cheerful morality tale that suggests helping others, being kind and courageous are good things.

Each morning, Peggy and her mum and dad greet each other perkily, eat an egg for breakfast, then Peggy sings in a terribly off-key voice and they go off packing.

But, when the townspeople need saving from a sinking boat, a storm and an addled villain called Peter, Peggy finds that she can sing in tune and her bright, siren song saves the people from certain destruction on the rocks.

So sing at the top of your voice, even when people tell you to stop, because singing can save the day – and it makes you feel good when things are going badly.

By Kate Herbert

  Louis Lovett pic by Pat Redmond

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