Songs For Nobodies
Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Songs For Nobodies is a one woman show transferred into the west end after a stint at the wonderful Wilton’s Music hall. It centres on the 5 ‘nobodies’ of the title and their brush with fame, specifically Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday and Maria Callas
Each story is told by one woman and how they meet or are linked to each star and how they felt. The show is performed by the incredibly talented Bernadette Robinson, who is skillfully able to move between the 5 nobodies and 5 stars with consummate ease. In the first section she is a melancholy jilted wife who meets Judy Garland in the bathroom of a restaurant and has a brief moment with the star. Bernadette is able to move between these characters in a split second and without breaking the narrative flow, something repeated throughout each story. These are littered with some great comic moments that Bernadette makes full use of.
But what really stands out is Bernadette’s voice which is a joy to listen to as she deftly demonstrates her skill in the voices of each of the people.
While the talent of Bernadette shines through and each story is ably written only one of the stories is exciting in itself. The characters are each loveable but there is not enough interest in each one to keep you engaged across all 5 monologues. Each of the stories are distinct and there is no narrative thread that joins these together. In a play where each character is explored in more detail these could be interesting characters but the short time we have with each here stops that exploration being possible. While this would work well in a music hall in the west end there needs to be some elevation to the story to stop this being just 5 sketches that in essence have no need to be together. So while the show is enjoyable the limits in story prevent it from being truly outstanding. I would be interested in seeing if these limitations were learnt from in the follow up show Pennsylvania Avenue.
However there are nice touches through the stories with each demonstrating a different emotion (melancholy, ambition, desire) and each of the women having a signature drink, along with a specific star they link to.
The staging is simple and the lighting gets used to great effect with blue light transporting you from a 60’s apartment, to a smoky jazz club and back again. There were moments when the back of the stage was filled with the star’s shadow which was simple and powerful.
I give this a solid 3 Laura Michelle-Kelly rating. It’s a fun evening out which you will enjoy, particularly if you like the music (though don’t expect any Over the Rainbows) and though you can’t fail to be delighted by Bernadette’s voice the limited story is unlikely to have you racing back soon.
The show runs until February 23rd at the Ambassador’s Theatre. For tickets head to the TodayTix app which has some great offers on.
Don't forget to check out which seats are best using https://seatplan.com/london/ambassadors-theatre/