Review by Mark Dance
60 mins | Musical, Storytelling | G
A couple of veteran fringesters team up to explore and express their shared passion for two French music legends in song and story.
At the start of the production, Duthie rhetorically asks, “How many people live, love and die to the soundtrack of Piaf and Brel?” By the end of the performance, the answer is clearly ‘at least two’—both Duthie and Gall convince us that the music and lives of these artists matter a great deal to them and should matter to us as well.
In the semi-scripted dialogue and storytelling that makes up half the performance, Gall and Duthie share funny and sincere moments from their own lives and the lives of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel: tales of call centre murders, singing Christmas trees and a simulated doughnut orgasm hit their marks nicely. Gall is cute, cheesy, goofy and exceptionally talented. Duthie plays the foil to Gall’s antics, but also charms the audience with wit and goofiness all his own. Both performers have infectious and adorable enthusiasm for their subjects.
The singing, making up the other half of the show, was rich and lovely; Melanie Gall’s powerful voice rendered her microphone almost unnecessary and Bremner Duthie lit up his share of the tunes. The only weak point in the sung portion came when the two voices clashed as one singer tripped up the other in duet. Gall did her best to get the audience to sing along but most spectators were quite content to just listen to the superb voices.
At the end of the show, after the applause had dissipated, Duthie encouraged the audience to see as many fringe shows as possible because they are in general “months and months of people’s lives squished into an hour.” Their original work in Ne Me Quitte Pas exceeded this description and synthesized years of passion into a delightful hour. This is a playful but honest theatrical concert.
Ne Me Quitte Pas, Piaf et Brel: The Impossible Concert is playing at BYOV-A-Mercury Lounge (56 Byward Market Square) on Monday June 18 at 6:30 pm; Tuesday June 19 at 7:00 pm; Wednesday June 20 at 7:00 pm and Saturday June 23 at 12:00 pm. Tickets are $10.