Mad Women in my Attic!
The Other Palace
Reviewed – 28th October 2017
“Salvi is undoubtedly a charismatic performer but her soprano doesn’t quite captivate”
Set in an imaginary mental asylum, “Mad Women In My Attic” is a collection of tunes from the likes of Stephen Sondheim, Kurt Weill, Kander & Ebb, Maury Yeston, Jacques Brel; among others. It is indeed an impressive set list; ambitious and brave, two adjectives which also describe Monica Salvi, the London-based Italian singer who has put together this semi-autobiographical cabaret show.
The concept of the piece is revealed to the audience from the outset. After often being typecast in roles of crazy women, Salvi was inspired to develop a cabaret to celebrate all of the mad songs and characters she had in her repertoire. That is the starting point, from which she leads us into a fictionalised account of her alter ego; a woman who has exchanged the stage for padded walls, glamorous costumes for a white nightgown, and audiences for a bunch of inmates.
The show gets off to a promising start as she emerges seductively from beneath a grand piano. Seated at the piano, in white coat, is her “psychiatrist”; musical director Michael Ferreri. Insanely talented on the keys his role is understated, but his musical accompaniment often threatens to be the star of the show. I found my attention often drawn to the piano instead of the singer. Salvi is undoubtedly a charismatic performer but her soprano doesn’t quite captivate. She tries just a little too hard and there is a neurotic energy about her that betrays a chink in her confidence.
The running joke that we, the audience, are her fellow inmates runs thin and becomes tiresome especially during a couple of clunky moments of audience participation. But one has to admire her energy, and it is a terrific romp through some classic show tunes, highlights of which included ‘With One Look’ from “Sunset Boulevard” and her stand out rendition of Jacques Brel’s ‘La Valse à Mille Temps’.
Laced with dark humour (a timely night’s entertainment for Halloween), this show professes to be a celebration of the fine line between creativity and madness. On that level it fails, but it does succeed in celebrating some of the great composers and lyricists of our time. By the end of the evening the audience were clearly keen for her to return to the stage for an encore. Bizarrely though she greeted this warm reception with a cool refusal of a curtain call.
Reviewed by Jonathan Evans
Photography (c) Monica Salvi
MAD WOMEN IN MY ATTIC!
Was at The Other Palace