25 November 2013

Vivienne at Linbury Studio Theatre


This was the third time that I had seen Vivienne and every time she had got better. The differences this time were mostly down to the Linbury Studio Theatre and it was a delight to see Vivienne performed in a venue designed for operatic performance.

The basic set was the same. Vivienne told the story of her life from the confines of a white square. The differences were the size of the stage and the lighting.

The larger stage meant that Libby Burgess' piano could be hidden in a dark corner. I presume that this was very deliberate as the corner was kept unnecessarily dark and Libby wore black and so was almost invisible. In contrast, Clare McCaldin performed on a white stage under bright lights and wore white.

I discovered more about Vivienne on each hearing because the libretto by Andy Rashleigh was so rich. Each listening was like the first time with most of the words coming as unexpected surprises.

Of course, for Vivienne to work at all required a good score and Stephen McNeff's music was wonderful. The story was told through six songs with different moods but the same grounding in music hall. This made all of the songs approachable but it would be wrong to think of any of them as simple.

Vivienne was a one woman show and Clare McCaldin was fantastic (again). Without the video evidence to prove it, it is hard to say how/if her performance was different this time but I think that her growing confidence in the role and the chance to perform on a "proper" stage gave Clare the impetus to put even more in to her acting than before. For example, I thought that she was raunchier than previously in the scenes where she told us about her seductions by TS Eliot and Bertram Russell.

Vivienne is a marvellous production and it deserved to get this opportunity to shine on the big stage, and shine it did.

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