Songs For Nobodies played to a full theatre as the rain struck down in Brisbane last Friday night. The star of the play, the delightful Bernadette Robinson, mesmerised the audience in the Joanna Murray-Smith one-hander, as she told the stories of various average and unassuming women (nobodies) and their connection to well know song divas of our time.
Robinson plays ten vastly different characters in Songs For Nobodies and inhabits each one sublimely, weaving famous songs such as Patsy Cline’s ‘Crazy’ and Piaf’s ‘Non je ne Regrette Rien’ into the detail-focused story lines of these ordinary women.
Bernadette Robinson’s colourful characters come from places as far as Ireland, New York and Europe and her flawless accents drive the stories of these working class women.
Whether their connection is via a chance meeting with Judy Garland in a hotel lavatory room or sailing as a stewardess on a cruise liner which sees the likes of Maria Callas climb aboard, the stories are told with such attention to detail that the audience can’t help but be transported effortlessly back to that time on clouds of lyrical stories and memories.
If you close your eyes during any point in a song you are certain, even down to the timbre of the voice, that the real artist is indeed singing for you and not Robinson, making you realise just how real an artist Robinson truly is.
The set takes on a very angular art deco inspired look with small cupboard compartments housing each of the “nobodies” drinks of choice. This is a clever design, which eloquently offers a new prop for every new character we meet — subtle and so effective.
The stories of how these normal women hold a personal connection to each of the singers is reminiscent of the 1998 Little Voice and also to my own fantasies of being connected to the Spice Girls in the late 90’s.
Certainly, it seems that the writer and performer share a common connection of truly being able to tell the story authentically, as they subtly leave the audience with a sense of searching for their own memories of ‘famous’ encounters and the joy of the unknown synchronistic meetings we are ALL yet to face.