Writer: Kevin Short
Director: Kevin Short
Reviewer: Robin Winters
Peter Straker delivers an outstanding performance in this hour long tribute to singer-songwriter Jacques Brel. The show is not merely a celebration of the works of Brel but rather a celebration of Straker’s life-long love affair with the music of the Belgian star. Straker first came to fame as Hud in the 1968 London production ofHairand he has gone on to release albums and appear on stage and screen over the last forty five years. Brel’s music has played a big part in Straker’s career, perhaps most notably his rendition of ‘Jackie’ released on his 1977 albumThis One’s On Me.
Straker is a fantastic showman and he switches effortlessly between the different styles throughout Brel’s extensive catalogue. The camp theatricality of songs such asMadameandAmsterdamare performed with such gusto and infectious energy that it’s an incredible transformation when Straker turns his masterful voice to ballads such as ‘Flatlands‘or his breath-taking encore renditionof ‘If We Only Have Love’.
The songs are linked together by projections, props and various costume changes courtesy of legendary costume designer Sue Blane. There is a loose narrative throughout where Straker gives us brief glimpses into the life behind the legend informing us of Brel’s penchant for women, alcohol and cigarettes which cleverly brings together each song.
If you’re looking for a biographical exploration of the life and works of Jacques Brel this show will perhaps not tick all your boxes. However if you’re looking for a fantastic hour of entertainment safe in the hands of a performer who seriously knows how to put on a show you will be in your element. This is a real Fringe highlight – don’t miss it!
Runs until Mon 26thAug