I was fortunate to catch Emily Davis at Jazz Bar, Toulouse Lautrec Kennington last week where she performed the first Edinburgh preview of her new one-woman show, Blodwen’s in Town.
At just under an hour in length, Emily’s one-woman show is a character piece called Blodwen’s in Town: Blodwen, an ebullient Welsh 30-something regals stories from her past; her family, her move to London from a small village in Wales. The piece is a mixture of songs and stories with a few costume changes!
Emily is joined by Andy Campbell Smith on piano, but other than Andy, a vase of daffodils and a strategically placed very large Welsh Flag, Emily is very much on her own on the stage. The piece is pacy, runs at just the right length, and Emily as Blodwen is engaging. Her monologue is interjected by several very well-chosen songs by artists including Barbara Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey and Mark Bunyan. We are also treated to some songs from the musical Jet Set Go.
The true beauty of Emily’s show is her pairing of song and story – here she delivers one hundred per cent on this – to the point that I asked if she wrote any of the songs herself, to which I was pointed to the list of music and I’m embarrassed to say I had not heard any of these songs before, however, I have found new favourites in Emily’s renditions of Flatmates by Frank Sinatra, Burn My Candle originally sung by Shirley Bassey (and banned by the BBC for being too risqué) and my favourite of the night, We Will All Go Together When We Go by Tom Lehrer.
Emily’s choice of music is perfect, as she powers through these renditions, Emily’s striking powerful singing voice contrasts beautifully with the Welsh accented simplicity of Blodwen’s stories. Blodwen’s tales are familiar to a London audience, she talks us through her experience of interviewing for a flatshare in London, the price of living in London, and her relationship with her family. As Blodwen, Emily is an engaging performer, we lean in to hear her stories, we laugh with her at her jokes and realisations that life isn’t what she thought, and when the going gets tough we also shared in a quiet moment with her as she talks about the loss of a family member.
I experienced preview number one, I can only imagine the show will get tighter and smoother as she moves towards her Edinburgh Residency at Fingers Piano Bar at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Review by Faye Stockley
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