FRINGE 2013 – Simply The Henbest – La Boheme – 3K

By Ben Nielsen

Having recently performed in the acclaimed Gady Lala, this year’s Fringe Festival marks Sidonie Henbest’s return to the stage as a soloist. Henbest can be found behind the scenes of the Cabaret Fringe Festival or hosting Cabaret Live! In this indulgent new solo show, she’s front and centre- and it’s really all about her.

It is a retrospective bildungsroman of sorts, traversing the years between childhood and present day. With a collection of songs that help portray the tale, the audience learns of Henbest’s schooling, family and sexual awakening.

Patter and audience interaction was casual, light hearted and engaging; but the underlying plot was perhaps a little incoherent. While interesting, narrative direction did not become clear until late in the performance, and the link between anecdotes was sometimes vague. More consistent use of the “first ladies club” motif (a group of strong female figures who shaped Henbest’s life) would definitely have joined the piece a little better.

Henbest exudes sass. She moves about the stage comfortably and, with the assistance of subtle choreography, certainly has the air of a diva. While pitch and intonation was sometimes an issue, her powerful, soulful voice shone during numbers like “Down with Love” and “What Is It About Her?”.
As always, Matthew Carey is incomparable at the piano.

While La Boheme is the perfect venue for such performances, its small confines did no justice to the sound design. At times, it was just painfully loud.

Henbest returned with a hearty encore and a shameless Cabaret Fringe Festival plug-a reminder that her own slick opening night performance also heralds the beginning of Mad March.

Kryztoff Rating     3K

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