There is something hauntingly familiar about the Edith Piaf story; for one the life of her contemporary Billie Holiday immediately springs to mind. A woman abandoned during her formative years gets a chance and from there lives parallel lives of fame and success on the one hand and abuse and unhappiness on the other as she searches for some kind of happy medium.
Michaela Burger, accompanied by Greg Wein on guitar, takes us through it all, even if the first 20 years get condensed into a mere 55 seconds. Burger, in Piaf’s trademark black dress and even bearing an uncanny resemblance to the French super diva when she sported short hair, tells the stories and sings the songs that not only were her most popular but also pivotal in her short life.
To be sure this is no rose coloured version of Piaf’s story though perhaps more of her self-destructive behaviour could have been highlighted; for example her two year old daughter it seems died as much of maternal neglect as disease.
But Burger is in fine form, after the first few minutes her voice strong and her hand gestures always creative and new. The seeming simplicity of the production ensures the emotional impact of the songs gets the full portrayal and nicely leads to the appropriate impact of the occasional use of loops.
Given the history and future of this production it is not clear why this show was not picked up for the centre court festival on the Torrens but perhaps that opportunity awaits them under Barry Humphries. For all lovers of French music, Piaf and her life Exposing Edith is certainly one sparrow that flies.
Shows still to come at Nexus this weekend and then on the 25th.
Kryztoff Rating 4K