Adelaide Fringe 2012

What is this thing called love?

0 Comments 17 March 2012

Presented by SINGular Productions
@ Butterfly House
FRIDAY 16th March (until March 17)

What is this thing called love? is more that just a musical tribute to the legendary composer Cole Porter. This musical portrait weaves narration of Cole’s life, and his relationship with wife Linda Lee Porter, between quotes from letters from their friends and acquaintances in real life and most important of all, with 25 of Cole’s greatest hits.

Starring Deborah Caddy and Adam Goodburn (who alternate between representing Cole and Linda, narrating the story and playing a host of other characters), this show was much more theatrical than I expected. Both Caddy and Goodburn are great singers, and are expertly accompanied on the piano by Matthew Carey, also the musical director of the show. Not only do Caddy and Goodburn act and sing, they have worked out some nifty little dance routines to accompany the songs, and their delivery of comments and quotes from Porter and his real life friends was fast and fun.

Cole Porter has a prolific back catalogue of songs to choose from, and I’m sure there was difficulty in narrowing down  to the 25 chosen for the show. The songs were well matched to the different parts of Cole’s life. There were some great performances, including Night and Day, Brush up Your Shakespeare and Every Time we Say Goodbye. The definite highlights, however, were Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love) and Friendship. These last two songs were actually performed after the performers had taken their final bow, which I felt was a strange move. Although the show was well put together and wonderfully performed, the first half of the show in particular seemed to lack that spark of energy that came through in those final songs.

The show was 80 minutes long, which included an interval around halfway in. Unfortunately, I feel that the performance may have benefited from cutting a song here and there to make a tighter show, as it seemed to drag just that little bit towards the end of the first half. That being said, the second half did seem to pick up the pace, and considering it was the first night the show had been performed, it may have just been a matter of first night nerves.

This is a show that is best to come and see with friends, as although the show is performed up on a proper stage (very fitting, as most of Cole’s music was written for musical theatre), the audience were seated around small tables, in groups of five or six. It really gave the room that feel of a nightclub from days gone by, with rosy lighting and candles on the tables to give it that sense of authenticity. I was probably the youngest person in attendance at the show, which was mainly filled with Cole Porter fans of old. However, there is nothing to stop a young fan familiar with the works of Porter from enjoying this performance, although they may get a few strange looks from the audience. While not a perfect show, What is this thing called love? is an enjoyable tribute to a very talented man and his interesting life.

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