There are some shows that simply have to be seen. This could be because they are classics, or because they are one off or because they are on a limited run and nobody knows if they will be performed again. Dawn French: 30 Million Minutes currently on a four week run at the Vaudeville Theatre is definitely the latter.
The title does not refer to the length of the show but Dawn’s age – 30 million minutes is roughly 56 years – and over the course of two hours Dawn takes the audience through the story of her life from childhood – when she snubbed the Queen Mother – through to pretty much today. Dawn may be short in stature but she totally dominates the stage. Bestriding it like a colossus as she recounts stories from her life – complete with some wonderful images projected on the large video screen behind her.
As you would expect from such a well known comedienne, there are laughs aplenty throughout the show but, as with so many great performers, there is tragedy too, particularly when Dawn talks about her father. And Dawn takes the audience with her all the way through the highs and lows with wonderful style, introducing us to new words like ‘norks’ and ‘growler’ (believe me you really don’t want to know what that one means) and keeping the entire audience hanging on her every word. Dawn didn’t really mention her amazing career – although we did get to know her nickname for Jennifer Saunders – and that was to her credit. It would have been really easy to do nothing but regale the audience with loads of showbusiness anecdotes but I was really impressed that Dawn didn’t go down that route and instead, gave the audience a chance to know the real woman. Behind the smile.
By the end of Dawn French: 30 Million Minutes I really felt that I had not only learned about Dawn but also really got a feeling for how awful it must be to be in the public eye when the tabloid press decide that you are in their sights. To come through all of the negative publicity being bandied about and make an audience laugh along with you over them takes an amazing strong personality and Dawn really does have that with style and panache to spare.
Review by Terry Eastham
Dawn French, the Queen of British comedy, performs her first ever and critically acclaimed solo show 30 MILLION MINUTES at London’s Vaudeville Theatre for a strictly limited season. The award-winning actor, best-selling novelist and all round very funny lady has written a new show, based on her life and career.
Directed by Michael Grandage (Photograph 51, Peter And Alice), 30 MILLION MINUTES consists of various delights and riches, with the odd irksome tribulation thrown in, as Dawn French takes audiences through the various lessons life has taught her, and the things she knows for sure.
The evidence is there for all to see. She is already three quarters certifiably daft. The other quarter is utterly bewildered. And the remaining quarter simply can’t do maths. With a sharp eye for comic detail and a wicked ear for the absurdities of life, Dawn French of Cornwall shares how she has misguidedly spent her whole life vigorously attempting to be a fully functioning female human.
Dawn French: 30 Million Minutes
London, WC2R 0NH
Booking to 9th December 2015