I was unsure of what to expect when I went to the Royal Theatre - I did not know anything about the show or the story of Andrew Lloyd Webber's early show Tell Me on a Sunday. I need not have worried. The story was captivating and beautifully told.
With a one-woman show, the choice of performer is key. I knew that Claire Sweeney could sing - but she far exceeded by expectations with a really winning performance and an outstanding voice. She has a number of very fast costume changes to cope with - which is does with consummate ease.
The set is very effective - as are the props. This is very true with the laptop used for sending many of the messages home - the Windows start-up noise really adds to the authentic feel.
The evening is a short one - coming it at only eighty minutes but it flies by and the audience is swept up completely in this tale of contemporary single life. In fact, it might be too close to home for some people!
Overall it is a great show with a great central performance. One of the best things I have seen this year.
- Jenni Smith
An anternative view is taken by Michael Davies who gives the production 3 stars:
For a piece with such a complicated history, the producers of Tell Me On A Sunday have made a pretty good job of making it hang together.
Originally written as a one-hour TV show for Marti Webb, this Andrew Lloyd Webber composition has been paired with a ballet to make Song and Dance, extended to showcase the talents of Denise van Outen, and now reworked again for Scouse songstress Claire Sweeney on a tour kicking off in Northampton’s bijou Royal Theatre.
Certainly, the venue does exactly the right job of creating an intimate, almost conversational atmosphere, and Janet Bird’s set design is all moody blues and shocking pinks. The visual tone echoes the split personality of the one and only character, the English girl in New York, whose lurch from one love affair to another straddles the emotions from girlish delight to womanly yearning and soul-searching.
Directed securely by Tamara Harvey, Sweeney herself proves a fine actress and engages all these emotions with a likeable, chirpy personality defying all the heartaches to emerge a strong, slightly more independent woman.
And if Lloyd Webber gives her impossibly wide-ranging notes to match the emotions in his under-powered, off-the-shelf score, then it’s tough to blame the star if she struggles occasionally to reach the extremities of the vocal gymnastics.
It’s a slight piece and the pared-down, five-piece, on-stage band under musical director Jae Alexander does well to create as much texture and nuance as it can, but the show never quite has the same glint in the eye as its star does.
The production looks stylish, Sweeney is charming and charismatic and the Royal has sold out its brief run – all big pluses. But anyone expecting a grand Lloyd Webber barnstormer is likely to come away just a little bit disappointed.