Writer & Composer: Lucy Rivers
Director: Titus Halder
Reviewer: Kris Hallett
It was a sparsely attended cabaret tent on the last evening of the festival where most exhausted revellers were pushing through for one last rave with Fatboy Slim on the BBC Music Stage. Yet performer, writer and composer Lucy Rivers doesn’t let this stop her, for an audience of 50 or 500, the energy doesn’t falter: she blitzes through this one-hour theatrical gig that mixes its musical styles from jazzy gin-soaked standards to country wails about thwarted friendships.
Over the course of 60 minutes Rivers and her three-strong band, The Bad Mothers, play a live album of the tale of Ruth Ellis, the last women to be hanged in Britain, both a sinner and a woman sinned against. There is always a tale to tell about why people turn out the way they do and Rhyl’s own has her own tragic tale to tell. Aged just 17 she was seduced by a Canadian soldier who fathered a child and consequently disappeared, spots of nude modelling and prostitution followed along with an abusive first marriage and another child conceived and made illegitimate. A relationship with a flash boy racer eventually turned possessive and led to a final five shot salute that saw her dangle.
Glamour, sex and murder are a heady brew and the music has some of that dark sensuality to it. Dressed up in tight leather and clad in sunglasses Rivers looks an archetypical femme fatale, but as she removes the glasses, her eye make-up writ large upon her face she looks something different, a vulnerable woman wronged. Someone whose pain could no longer take her to any other end point.
It suffers the usual problems associated with all theatre work when staged at a festival; a mobile shed disco playing directly outside the festival; a tripping audience member who danced her heart out in a party of one; but the work holds enough of the attention not to let this overrun it. Theatre, gig or cabaret or a mix between all three it’s a sensual, bruising way to end Latitude 2017.
Reviewed on 16 July 2017 | Image: Kieran Cudlip