Choice: Theatre

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Hymn to Love, The Drill Hall, London WC1 (0171-637 8270) 7.30pm

We've all had far more than we can take of both victim sob-stories and cheesy bio-dramas, but this homage to Edith Piaf (above) is neither of those things. Elizabeth Mansfield eschews impersonation and instead plays "The Singer" in scenes and songs which build to a vivid reimagining of Piaf's highly emotional life. Timothy Sutton provides immaculate arrangements for piano, bass, trumpet, sax and, of course, the ubiquitous accordion, while Steve Trafford's translations avoid all the pitfalls of English versions of French songs which usually end up gluey and portentous. Annie Castledine's exacting, exemplary production builds a terrific sense of atmosphere and stillness with Nick Beadle's fiercely angled lighting cutting through the darkness to illuminate Mansfield's fragile figure which belies the immense power of her voice. Her full-throated performance rings with sincerity and her passionate conviction hits you between the eyes. A stunning portrait of a woman who lived on her nerve endings.

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