Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company
My Judy Garland Life
By Susie Boyt
Adapted by Amanda Whittington
MY JUDY GARLAND LIFE
by Amanda Whittington.
Nottingham Playhouse Wellington Circus NG1 5AF To 15 February 2014.
Tue-Sat 7.45pm Mat 8 Feb 2.30pm, 13 February 1.30pm.
Audio-described 12 February 7.45.
BSL Signed 14 Feb.
Captioned 13 Feb 7.45pm.
Runs 2hrs 10 minutes. One interval.
TICKETS: 0115 9419419.
Review: Jen Mitchell 4 February.
Reality meets fantasy in this enjoyable adaptation of Susie Boyt’s thought-provoking memoir.
At various points in young Susie Boyt’s life Judy Garland is friend, confidant, partner in crime and supporter, and continues to be so throughout her adult life. The story is told in short scenes, vaguely chronological, exploring the relationship between devoted fan and idol – though the idol died the year the fan was born. The book has been described as a layering of biography, hero-worship and self-help, which is a pretty accurate description of Amanda Whittington’s admirable adaptation.
The show looks at the life of Judy Garland (Sally Ann Triplett) in an interesting way, asking why she became a sad, lonely figure. Some childhood scenes are very revealing, showing beautifully the vulnerability of both characters, neither having straight-forward relationships with their fathers. Susie (Faye Elvin) grows from an awkward young girl into an assured young woman.
The impressionistic style is underscored by the clever use of projections of ‘real’ people, describing their school days, and their frank recollections of what Judy Garland meant to them (one had thought she starred in The Sound of Music).
The action takes us through Garland’s early career, Hollywood heyday and later struggles in New York and London. It also charts, in less technicolor, Susie’s young life and blossoming career as a writer. One fine scene recollects an interview Susie carried out for The Observer. Triplett here does a spot-on impression of Lisa Minnelli, as both characters discuss the difficulties of having famous parents.
The set, resplendent with red sequined grand piano, swathes of red flowers and traditional footlights, is all Hollywood glamour, the backdrop resembling MGM’s logo, through which appear various projections and silhouettes. A musical trio support as actors throughout and take part in a poignant scene where Garland, appearing in London, has wandered in the middle of the night into a cabbies’ hut, where she is welcomed and looked-after.
Triplett is at her most skilled in her impressions of Garland towards the end of the piece, when she was playing to sell out audiences in London. Anyone who has seen footage of those concerts will recognise the accuracy of the performance.
Mr S/Musical Director: Stefan Bednarczyk.
Mr T/Drums: Delroy Brown.
Susie: Faye Elvin.
Mr L/Double Bass: William Oxborrow.
Judy: Sally Ann Triplett.
Director: Kath Rogers.
Designer: Tom Rogers.
Lighting: Mike Gunning.
Sound: Drew Baumohl.
Video: Barret Hodgson.
Choreographer: Adele Parry.