Cybill Shepherd: Cybill Disobedience, Soho Theatre, London

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The Independent Culture

After her recent dishevelled appearance on GMTV, where she looked like she was auditioning for the remake of The Bride of Frankenstein, normal service and coiffure resumed for Cybill Shepherd for the start of her latest London dates.

After her recent dishevelled appearance on GMTV, where she looked like she was auditioning for the remake of The Bride of Frankenstein, normal service and coiffure resumed for Cybill Shepherd for the start of her latest London dates. What's more, the 52-year-old middle-aged-girl-about-town had obviously managed to put from her mind some less-than-enthusiastic reviews of her previous appearances here, including her last in 2001, which took place at the Pizza Express Jazz Club.

Such was the torpor hanging around this show I can see why it might have been best accompanied by a bottle of Montepulciano and anticipated by the digestion of a truly hot American. The only thing resembling alcohol on offer inside the Soho Theatre was the pretend vodka Shepherd lamely swigged. She wasn't under the influence; the audience wasn't particularly under her spell; yet she conveyed the stupor of a squiffy performer under hot lights in a smoke-filled room whether she meant to or not.

Finding her autobiography, Cybill Disobedience, hard to put down even after three years, Shepherd reheats stories of former lover Elvis, mentor Orson Welles and Moonlighting co-star Bruce Willis. These tales are recounted in a rather throwaway manner, and are perhaps starting to show wear in the re-telling, although her jibes at Willis still amuse. The show's subtitle "How I survived Beauty Pageants, Elvis, Sex, Bruce Willis, Lies, Marriage, Motherhood, Hollywood and the Irrepressible Urge to Say What I Think... with music" promises more, but the reality is that the balance between the so-called scandalous gossip and the music is massively weighted to the latter.

As with her anecdotes, some of her renditions of jazz standards such as "Mad About The Boy" seem wavering and choked off, but she does gain momentum with each song; and by the time she reaches closing numbers like "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" she seems to be in more of a groove. Somewhere in the middle is "Graceland Revisited", a schmaltzy tune inspired by a recent nostalgic visit to Memphis, something that could have worked only as a pastiche.

In a recent interview, Shepherd talked about the "Bermuda triangle" that women over 40 find themselves in with some professions, acknowledging that if Moonlighting were recast today Willis would keep his role while she would be usurped by a younger actress. Her response seems to have been to reproduce herself in all conceivable formats, with Cybill the TV series, Cybill the book, Cybill the cabaret show and even a mooted Cybill the musical.

But if you are going to be a "see me, buy the t-shirt" star you need to give people a reason to wear it more than once; and behind the nostalgic tales and wistful jazz ballads you just know that Shepherd would like another moment in the limelight.

To 9 October (020-7478 0100)

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