The Song Project co-created by Chloe Lamford, Wende, Isobel Waller-Bridge & Imogen Knight. Jerwood Upstairs, the Royal Court, Sloane Square, London 5*****. William Russell

Sometimes a show simply hits you smack in the solar plexus and this wild, wonderful, created by the Dutch singer Wende, composer Isobel Waller-Bridge and a collection of writers is such a show. Wende, red headed and with an amazing voice, dominates everything – she signs, plays the piano, at one point she is striking the keys of the upright so rapidly her hands are blur, she prowls round the audience – the band, a pianist at a grand piano, percussionist and cellist are grouped in the middle of the room – demanding them to submit, cajoling, leaping on top of the upright and then onto the grand. Her energy exhausts. Some things, the premise is, can only be sung and here they most certainly are. The show, which should have been in the Jerwood downstairs had to be transferred for this run to the Jerwood upstairs which allowed an amazing coup de theatre at the end when Wende suddenly open the window shutters to reveal the trees of the square outside, windows nobody knew existed. It brought the performance in the dark into the real world somehow. It opens with Dark Black Pool written by E.V. Crowe which sets the tone and makes you wonder at Wende’s voice which can be rasping, seductive, sweet, pretty well whatever the lyrics demand. But it is when she gets on to the third song, Lonely Bitch, that the evening takes off and it never gets back to ground. She controls her audience completely, getting them to sing along at her command. I never thought to sing Let It Be a chorus The whole fucking forest I am the whole fucking forest but I did and so did everyone else. Wende is big in Holland. She should be big here too. The opening song by Crowe about the dark black pool at the edge of the island ends with the singer diving in and someone shouting to be careful – the response – I told him to go fuck himself. Go and be engulfed in a welter of emotions, rage, joy you name it as these women take on the world. The Court has come up with something weird, wonderful and not to be missed although that may have to wait until it returns next year.
The words are by Crowe, Sabrina Mahfouz, Somalia Nonye Seaton, Stef Smith & Debris Stevenson.

Nils Davidson; Piano.
Percussion: Louise Anna Duggan.
Cello: Midori Jaeger.
Piano/Vocals: Wende.

Designer: Debbie Duru.
Lighthing Designer: Lee Curran.
Sound Engineer: Francis Gardner.
Sound Consultant: Bob Willekins.
Electronic Producer: Jan van Erd.
Photography: Ali Wright.

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