Lounge at The GC at The German Club, Thu 9 Mar.
This is Cologne cabaret star, Sylvia Brecko’s third visit to the Adelaide Fringe, and this time round she chose to put the focus on the lives and music of Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe. Given her German background Piaf and Dietrich are more obvious choices but the inclusion of Monroe is a curious one. It turns out that that it was Monroe that inspired the young Brecko to become a performer – not the German divas.
Myth combines the music with stories behind the songs, and background details of the artists’ lives. We learn that Piaf and Dietrich were good friends, and that Monroe, despite the popular image of her as a ditzy blonde, was not just an actor and sex siren, but an accomplished singer, dancer and advocate for social change.
From the opening notes of the first number from Piaf the European mood was set. Brecko’s ability to switch easily between English, French, and German is quite remarkable. She had no trouble doing justice to the songs of Marilyn Monroe, but her delivery of the songs of Piaf and Dietrich benefit from her roots in European culture.
A blown fuse on the technical desk meant Brecko had to cope without lighting or sound for several minutes and she deftly changed direction to accommodate the emergency. The sound came back on but not the stage lights so most of the show was performed with house lights up. She graciously handled all this – she is a seasoned performer after all – but we lost the benefit of focus being solely on the performer. It’s a subtle point but having the house lights up erodes the sense of mystery and separation between audience and performer, and changes the whole nature of the performance.
Fortunately Brecko has the ability to woo audiences and get them onside but she had to work harder tonight to compensate for the technical difficulties. In a strange way it may have worked in her favour as there was an obvious sense of appreciation of her stage craft, and we all wanted the show to go on.
An enjoyable hour of music and storytelling, with a little slice of Europe and a touch of the USA.