Star of Songs For Nobodies, Bernadette Robinson is a talented woman. With a capital ‘T’!
“In those days singers really had to have talent”. So says one of the multiple characters Bernadette Robinson plays in her one woman show. Spell that with a capital ‘T’ when you talk about Robinson.
Robinson is reported to have persuaded playwright Joanna Murray-Smith to produce the work specifically for her and to finesse Simon Phillips as Director. The piece is beautifully scripted and equally well directed. There is humour, nuance and enhancement of the star tribute factor with well drawn characterizations. The “nobodies” are women whose lives are touched by contact with “somebodies”.
American Bea offers to mend the hem of Judy Garland in a ladies rest room. Pearl is asked to sing for Patsy Cline and becomes her backing singer for a night. An astringent English librarian retells the story of her French father’s escape from a prisoner-of-war camp a la Edith Piaf. A New York journalist escaping fashion writing interviews Billie Holiday. The Irish Nanny being seduced by Aristotle Onassis brushes up against Maria Callas.
For Robinson it is the equivalent of vocal Olympics every night. She manages to produce distinctly different voices and personalities for each of the many characters to say nothing of the range or accents or tone in the dialogue. On top of that Robinson has the challenge of presenting the famous singers in iconic songs, but not in slavish mimicry, although the physical stance and mannerisms of each singer is well represented. Simon Phillips directs a tight and busy show with aplomb. The gorgeous and functional art deco set full of period props is used well throughout by Robinson to promote action and delineate the characters and changes. Everything is right with this show. It’s a treat. Don’t miss it.
Playing until August 14 2011
Tickets Sydney Opera House Box Office