We approached the Playhouse with bated breath. This was the first post-lockdown outing I had attended.
The near-darkness and intimacy of the theatre, almost candle-lit atmosphere, was just the beginning of what was a truly spectacular portrayal of the Little Sparrow.
As Edith was introduced onto stage by a man we later discover as the owner of a cabaret club, the resemblance was striking. The same black dress, the same walk, stance, and the same deep breath before the first note was sung.
After the song, she spoke. A thick Cockney accent that immediately allowed you to follow the dialogue without the added requirement of listening carefully to various French accents.
The set was reminiscent of war-time Paris and integrated well into the scenes as the story unfolded.
Each prop was discretely removed or added as the lights went down and the pianist in the corner added a certain pizzazz to the entire play.
The costumes added to the authenticity of the story; from the hair and make-up down to the hats and shoes.
The characters were all stars in their own right and the humour used throughout really did tickle the diaphragm.
But it was the performance by Jenna Russell as Piaf that really stole the show as she portrayed every single emotion of the singer’s life from her love of Marcel to her battle with alcoholism.
Russell’s French accent when singing was the highlight and her rendition of classics such as “La Vie En Rose” and “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” were guttural from the woman who came from the gutter.
Mon Verdict: manifique!
Piaf runs until Saturday 7 August at leeds Playhouse. Age guidance 13+. Tickets: £14-£32 from (0113) 213 7700.
This post was written by Amar Chana
Photo: Marc Brenner
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