20 August 2013

Vivienne was even better the second time

I liked Vivienne so much when I saw it the first time just a couple of weeks previously that I jumped at the opportunity to see it again.

This time the logistics were much less favourable as it was at The Forge in Camden, a venue new to me, and did not start until 9:45pm. I filled the time by having a few drinks with a friend by London Bridge and then heading to The Forge to eat in the associated The Foundry Bar and Restaurant where the vegetable tempura skewers, olive oil mayonnaise did the job. I had another pint of beer there too.

Then it was quite a bit of waiting round while looking casual about being determined to be near the front of the queue to secure a good seat. This became more urgent when I learnt that the seating was not raked and I risked being behind somebody taller than me (most people are).

It was Clare McCaldin herself who told me this when I built up the courage to have a quick word with her before the performance. Meeting the stars is one of the attractions of small venues and while I like to do this I am also acutely aware that they have better things to do.

The plan worked and I got a seat in the front row next to the aisle. Position A.

I struck up a conversation with the lady next to me and we swapped artistic tips by email while we waited for Vivienne.

The raised stage and flat seating meant some minor changes to the performance, such as the tarot cards being read on a chair rather than the floor. Other than that it was the same as before and even better than before.

I found it better as this time I knew the story and was able to pay more attention to the detail of the words and the beauty of the music rather than just trying to work out what was going on. The libretto is long with very few repeats and while it is easy to follow there is so much going on that it is easy to forget some of the detail. Second time around I often found myself hearing lines that I had forgotten.

Vivienne is a monologue delivered in a mix of styles as fits the mood of each story. We Were the Dancing Girls is a cabaret song, Betrie's Not There is a poem and the closer, Drunken Sailor, is a nursery rhyme. It also gives the piece a very neat ending with the final words "It's all over".

The mood of the piece is generally upbeat, despite Vivienne's rejection by her husband, and it is very lively too with Clare using all of the square and a healthy set of props like a rhythmic gymnast. It is all rather jolly and pleasing to watch.

That I was able to watch Vivienne twice in a couple of weeks and enjoyed it even more the second time is testament to the richness and quality of the work. The music and words are enthralling and Clare McCaldin's performance is astounding.

Vivienne is so good that I am hoping to see it again later this year.

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