The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly

Review written by Flossie Waite
Presented by Theatre Lovett

Stratford Circus
For ages 6+ 

A friend of mine recently decided to revive a show she had written. Someone who had seen the original production a couple of years ago asked her, “So, are all the cast available to do it again?” This was the highest compliment: it was a one-woman show. So convincing and energy-filled was the performance that this audience member mistakenly recalled many more actors peopling the stage. I can easily imagine the same happening with the one-man show, The Girl Who Forgot How To Sing.

Peggy O’Heggarty comes from a family of packers, people so good at their job they can fit a grand piano into a sweet jar. The play follows her heroic deeds and horrific singing to save her family and neighbours from Peter, a fairly reasonable villain. All he wants is a busy city to himself, and who can honestly say they haven’t felt the same on a packed street in town during a Saturday afternoon?

It is a masterstroke that as the audience files in to the auditorium and settles into their seats, a huge crate sits on stage. With smoke billowing out, flashing lights, and a dangling rope hanging just above, the air is thick with speculation as to what is going to come out…

The best part is, you could never guess! First to appear is the hugely talented Louis Lovett, and all the characters tightly and professionally packed up inside him. Secondly, as he begins to speak, is Finegan Kruckemeyer’s ridiculous and daring script. Thirdly, and lastly, Paul O’Mahony’s design – the crate fully opens up and all its boxy innards can be moved around, stacked and packed to create the set.

The writing is fun, and Lovett has fun with it, seeming to be either vaguely sticking to the script or about to throw it out altogether. It’s filled with wordplay, twists and turns, and the mark of any good one-man show: an excellent fight scene. The script hands the audience some power, feeding them just enough information that they become crucial to the smooth-running of the show; they remind Lovett what has already been said, and fill in the words he forgets. But it also flips the switch, skimming close to conventions but flouting them – Lovett narrates from inside a cupboard, is at one point overcome by the story and refuses to tell more, and even preemptively ends the show. He literally and figuratively steps outside the box in a production that plays with the rules of storytelling and theatre, and constantly delivers the unexpected.

At the very close, The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly offers a nice alternative to the after-show play session that is so common with Early Years Theatre. Lovett goes into the auditorium for some seemingly improvised moments that bring the onstage action thrillingly close, a surprising and satisfying end to a show that is never off-key.

Originally produced by The Ark in association with Theatre Lovett.

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