Piaf Remembered starring renowned jazz and cabaret singer Oriana Curls at thespaceuk this Fringe is a wonderful show sung in French that takes us on a musical journey though some of Edith Piaf’s timeless classics. With Joe Bickerstaff on piano and Katy Jungmann on clarinet, saxophone and accordion, and an outstanding performance by Oriana, these songs are once again magically brought to life for an all too brief period.
The format of this show is interesting as Oriana only interacts with the audience in song, never in direct conversation. Instead our narrator, performed by Gary Merry, tells us of his fleeting memories of being taken by his father to Edith Piaf's final emotional performance at the Olympia Music Hall in Paris in 1962, and this leading to a life long love of not only Edith Piaf and her music but a wider love of the arts in general.
Oriana is an incredible performer in her own right, and these performance skills are finely tuned in this performance as Edith Piaf. What separates Oriana from the many, many singers of Edith Piaf songs out there is that she is one of the few performers who instinctively understands that these songs are not just words to be sung, but stories of life full of emotion, heartache and joy. These songs are some of the greatest ever written (or sung), and it is almost like each song has its own life and soul and the singer only becomes the story teller and, if the performance is done right, then the words and music of the songs themselves take over and tell their own story. It takes a special performer to do that, and Oriana Curls is such a performer.
The big Edith Piaf classics are of course here “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” and “La Vie En Rose”, but it is a wonderfully emotional performance of my all time favourite song by Edith Piaf and one of the most beautiful love songs ever written that was the treat of this show for me as Oriana performed the heart breaking “Hymne à l'amour”. You can still hear in this song that Edith Piaf has never recovered from the loss of her beloved Marcel Cerdan, and maybe holds some blame for persuading him to change his travel plans (he died in an aircraft crash). Every time Edith Piaf sang this song throughout the years, it was almost like she was re-opening old emotional wounds, and Oriana makes this song feel just like that…someone so in love with another person and never really coming to terms with the loss of them.
If you can make it, try and get along to this show, it is only on for this week and ends on the 19th August.
Review by Tom King
Click here to read our interview with Gary Merry (Director/Writer/Spoken Word) and Oriana Curls as Edith Piaf