Annie Castledine's exacting, exemplary production ignores every rule of the genre. Instead of a tired chronological trot through career troughs and triumphs, this is far more expressionistic. Better still, the person we see is not precisely Piaf. She's there, her magnetic presence caught in photographs and archive footage splashed on a giant screen across one side of the stage. But she is gazed upon not only by the audience, but also by The Singer, who is mesmerically played by Elizabeth Mansfield.
She pays Piaf the highest compliment by refusing to resort to impersonation. Instead she mysteriously conjures up the atmosphere of Piaf's voice with considerable musical intelligence and Steve Trafford's tremendous English translations. Add Nick Beadle's superbly atmospheric lighting and terrific musical direction and the eerie, thrilling result comes far closer than a standard bio-drama could ever get.
`Hymn to Love', The Drill Hall, London WC1 (0171-637 8270)Reuse content