Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, Sun 14 Jan.
Songs And Stories Of The Paris Lido arrived with high expectations. It was an acknowledged success at the 2014 Adelaide Fringe and has toured widely in the meantime.
The show is presented through the eyes of Lido showgirl Lola Lola. Caroline Nin created the fictitious Lola Lola figure in an attempt to humanise the people behind the Lido sparkle and feathers, to present something of a narrative rather than just sing songs, and to share some of her own experiences of her time at the Lido. It’s an effective dramatic device that worked well enough.
Not surprisingly, life as a Lido showgirl comes with late nights, drinking and amorous affairs. This is all told with warmth and some humour – the story of her birthday boy Johnny is the highlight. Nin frankly tells us she wrote this show to give herself something to do when she left the Lido, and to be equally frank that’s about what it feels like. There’s no real passion for the tale, and it was patchy in performance. Nin did seem to warm to the task vocally as the show progressed, but it lacked verve and impact. Cabaret style seating may have helped: offering this as a stage show seemed to deprive it of its oxygen.
Nin has learnt to use her voice effectively, but she is no Piaf or Dietrich. Stephen Sondheim’s Losing My Mind was beautifully done however, and I Will Survive was an enjoyable curiosity – apparently the Lido made Nin learn it.
Expert musical accompaniment was provided by Nin’s musical director on piano, John Thorn, and local Adelaide musicians on basses, drums and trumpet.
This show has obviously had a good run for several years, but it was lacking this time around.