When deaf actor Caroline Parker first performs songs of the great ‘Diva’s’ through accompanying sign language it's really is touching to witness another emotional level and take on familiar songs that we can often take for granted. Yes, often the songs are steeped in sentimentality but when associated with the poetry of Parker’s emotive sign language and the story of former funeral director, Sue Graves, the recognisable tunes become interestingly new.
The narrative tells the story of Sue Graves and her rise to fame by signing classic songs in the persona of her own unique alter-ego, Tammy. Sue begins to follow in the footsteps of her greatest Diva Heroes as she travels the world as part of the newly found success of her act.
The nature of the one-woman monologue in the production aids in heightening the touching moments of the piece and allows one to feel connected with Caroline Parker’s performance. However, with a little more audience participation the overall success could have potentially turned the proceedings into the cabaret style that the character of Sue Graves so loves to perform within.
A cabaret layout may have also helped to increase the atmosphere to that of a club or bar by using tables and chairs instead of the conventional end-on approach that was chosen for the venue.
The story is undoubtedly engaging and competently staged, however, with a running time of two hours including an interval the discourse does tend to drag. If the evening were to be condensed into an hour long cabaret-styled format the production would undoubtedly benefit.
With the combination of captioned text and the great execution of signing songs with both practicality and panache the production goes beyond catering for a deaf audience, however , the songs begin to come a little too regular during the drawn out running time and a predictable pace begins to arise.
The performance as a whole is highly entertaining and a diversion from an ordinary night at the theatre, yet with a change of a few creative decisions it could have been so much more.
- Ben Wooldridge