Over the years Tell Me on a Sunday has been a TV special, paired with ballet, a one-act West End musical and had several re-workings and song list shuffles. Now Claire Sweeney steps into the shoes of the unlucky in love Brit all at sea over the water in what is billed as the ‘definitive version’.
As the four piece ensemble strike up the opening notes of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s stunning score, the Manhattan skyline gauze becomes more transparent slowly revealing a New York duplex with the band up top and Sweeney, pensive, down below. It is a classy start that sets the tone for the evening.
The one woman ‘song cycle’ follows Laura as she falls from one ill-fated relationship to another. As the only person ever on stage singing her characters internal thoughts, conversations with others or emails to Mum the show rests on Sweeney. Thankfully by the time you reach the first big song “It’s Not the End of the World” you know you are in safe hands.
The innovative set fills the large Empire stage and great direction from Tamara Harvey including some modern brushstrokes and scouse-isms for Claire to go down a treat playing to a home crowd. The score is elegantly combined with Don Black’s witty lyrics; no more so than in “Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad”.
The standout number “Take That Look off Your Face” has opened some versions and does feel a little dwarfed playing beside the equally strong title song before the unnecessary interval.
Aside from chasing men, a green card and kids you could be forgiven for asking what exactly this girl does? At times it can feel cold or all style and no soul. But that misses the point, as the show clearly represents the internal arguments we all play out within our heads and so is, by its very nature, self-centred.
Whilst it might not be without its flaws; Claire Sweeney proves Tell Me on a Sunday is a little gem of a show any night of the week.