“This is the show I have been waiting for to blow me away. Wow, wow, WOW!”
I’m sure I’ve heard it somewhere that while 13 is unlucky, 14 is incredibly lucky. And with this being my 14th review of this year’s Fringe I feel like I’ve stolen absolutely everyone’s luck and struck gold.
The queues outside and the desperate scramble for seats inside Assembly’s packed Rainy Hall should have been enough to convey that Doris and her friends are already becoming the runaway hit of this year’s Fringe.
The idea is fairly simple – a dramatic and musical retelling of what the “stars” are like backstage, based on the experiences of their dressing rooms assistants. The dialogue is well written and delivered with great vitality by the three actors, while the harmonies in the group numbers are just exquisite. The plot is basic, but I don’t think anybody came for that.
For me, Gail Watson is absolutely the star of this show. To be able to pull off one impression with such style is hard enough, but she embodied Doris Day, Dolly Parton, and a wonderfully bitchy Julie Andrews. I honestly couldn’t tell you which was my favourite, but when Dolly sang I Will Always Love You at the end of the show I genuinely thought I was watching the real deal – it was superb. Watson is charismatic, emotive and a simply stunning singer, and I predict a very exciting future for her.
Perhaps the most surprisingly impressive turn of the night was Frances Thorburn as Joel Grey, as he appeared in Cabaret. Her (his) mannerisms were impeccably refined and she more than capably held her own in the duet, Money Makes the World Go Around. Her performance of Somewhere Over The Rainbow was also mesmerising, capturing every nuance of the original.
We’ve all seen the divas’ on-screen and on-stage personas. This show delivered the rip-roaring numbers, tantrums and idiosyncrasies that we all love, but also very moving glimpses into their backstage lives, their families and insecurities. In what managed to be a fantastically glitzy, giggly and gritty affair, this is, without doubt, the show I have been waiting for to blow me away. Wow, wow, WOW!
I’m notoriously tight-fisted when it comes to my five stars, but I have no choice than to throw them all at this spectacular performance.
Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 10 August)