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Songs My Dad Said I Should Sing – Canal Café Theatre, London

Writer/Perfomer: Charlotte Bradford

Director: Clive Rowe

Reviewer: Sonny Waheed


Songs My Dad Said I Should Sing is a 1-hour, 1-woman show from a self-labelled ‘actress with big hair’ which also marks Clive Rowe’s directorial debut. A reprise of a show Charlotte Bradford has previously successfully performed at the Leicester Square Theatre and the Battersea Barge, she is accompanied solely by a pianist as she introduces us to a range of music, loved by her father, that ‘ha[s] entered her sub-conscious’. It’s a curious mix of show tunes, 80’s pop and fringe writers, but a common thread through the songs does emerge. They focus on love; the darker, less satisfactory side of love. As a result, the tempo is generally downbeat and there is a pained and, at times, maudlin feel about proceedings.

The good news though, is that Charlotte can sing. She has a wonderfully versatile and powerful voice, flitting from whimsical folk to pained pop, but is best when in sultry jazz form. And, she can vocally deliver a song. Focusing on songs that tell a story, her vocal performance really highlights the lyrical nuances of her chosen material.

That said, where this show does occasionally falter is Charlotte’s physical performance, almost like a rabbit caught in the headlights. She has two poses: perched on the edge of a stool or standing stock-still behind a microphone stand. The potential is clearly there though as the one time she moves away from the stand to embrace the stage, the whole performance was elevated to another level.

Additionally, with the exception of an out-of-place set piece on being in drama school, the banter in between the songs was unstructured and clumsily delivered. There was no narrative to the show and no real purpose to the short bursts of conversation; they gave no insight into her life, or the importance or meaning of the song which would have provided some interesting context.

With a stronger and more structured script, a more fluid stage presence and stronger direction, this would be a wonderful show. As it is, it’s an interesting look at a performer developing her talents. The good news is that we have not seen the best of Charlotte Bradford and we can only hope that she builds from here.

Runs until September 5th 2012

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