My love affair with this show started last year when I first reviewed it for LondonTheatre1.com. Unlike last time I knew exactly what the evening had in store for me, which made the excitement and anticipation even stronger this time. St James Theatre Studio is a perfectly formed bijou character-filled auditorium, with its bar, tables and upstairs lounge swivel chairs, it created a charismatic and intimate setting for this production. So as I took my seat, the scene was set and the ambience created.
What followed was a sublime, atmospheric and enchanting cabaret drama, with two hours of love, hope and delight. The evening was divided into four different pieces with Rosabella Gregory playing the piano beautifully, both underscoring and conjoining each story. Rosabella composed the music for this show and what a brilliant composition it is! A perfect match in my opinion to the stories and one could be totally forgiven to be completely absorbed and lost within its layers of beauty. To quote Rosabella herself “music is the glue which holds the show together” and it does in this collection of inspirational stories. Included within the four pieces were three original stories and a new additional story called Carousel.
Narcissi with Sarah Quintrell and Tom Gordon.
A tale of great love – the acting and timing was just divine. The romantic in me found the thought of a chance meeting of two people who returned time and time again to the same place, just to see one another, absolutely charming and a great opening.
Lullaby with Daphne Alexander, Sarah Quintrell and Tom Gordon.
Appearing to be about sleep and yet in so many ways so much more than that. So many questions arose from this piece that at one point I actually found myself holding my breath, as I was so totally engaged with the story and the enchanting music.
Carousel with Louisa Clein, Alan Cox and Tom Gordon
This new story opening the second act intrigued me. The energy that Alan Cox brought to it and the passion that was shown by Louisa Clein made it a great start. The reason why I found it so intriguing was until I realised its inner depth and meaning I could not see where the love story was? Then it hit me, this is one of the greatest love stories because this was telling the audience that everyone is loved and it’s all encompassing but for some the realisation is too late. An inspired concept and one which purveyed infinite hope, desire and everlasting love.
Pearl with Phoebe Sparrow and Jay Villiers.
The last story told of finding love, losing love, and not realising you are loved and can love again. This story had a purity about it which was beauteous in its simplicity. It was superbly acted and completely captivating, it was a pleasure to watch.
In essence this evening delivered exactly what it promised, incorporating both the direction and writing of James Phillips, there is no need for fanciful staging or scenery. This cabaret drama is stripped bare and what is left is the requirement to just lend your ears and use your imagination everything is created for you by words alone.
I came out of the show feeling empowered to go and take on London and love. Feeling that love does conquer all and to love is to be loved, and to fall in love with this city and its wonderful magic. I would implore you to watch out for the next set of dates and go and see it. This show, cast, composer, writer and director are a match made in heaven! The complete repertoire will eventually contain nine stories and as I watch the growing delights I’m already eagerly waiting for the next chapter in the journey!
Review by Caroline Hanks-Farmer
The album of music from City Stories is now available, including the theme from our brand new story, Carousel, and a special version of “Still” sung by Alexander Hanson, Rosabella’s beautiful music will take you on a magical journey through a magical city.
Friday 13th February 2015