Christine Bovill's Paris at The Stand’s New Town Theatre - Grand Hall takes us on a musical journey through time to mostly the decades of the 1920s to 1950s in France and the songs of the period. What a period though, as we move from the German cabaret bars and songs of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill moving to France and iconic performers that included Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf, Barbara, Juliet Greco, Charles Aznavour, Charles Trenet and Gilbert Becaud. Add into this magical music mixture equally iconic writers that included Marguerite Monnot, Charles Dumont, Georges Moustaki, Michel Rivgauche, and something special and unique happened with “Chansons Francaises” culminating in a artistic peak of performer and writer (often the same person) in the 1950s.
A recurring theme of this show is French songs that have become well known outside of France either for their lyrics translated into English, or completely new words written over the original melody. Sometimes these new words are still on the theme of the original story of the song, but other times there is no relationship between them lyrically.
French, or English language, it is the spirit of these songs that is important. The French originals are always to me unique though as these wonderful 3 or 4 minute plays were written for the rhythm and poetry of the French language. These are words that need a special singer/performer to breathe life into not only the words of the songs, but the lives of the people in them. Christine Bovill is one such performer and on songs like Edith Piaf’s "L'Accordéoniste" or Jacques Brel’s “Port Of Amsterdam” you can imagine easily that Christine is living out their stories on-stage.
The potential set list of songs here is enormous, so selecting the small number that will fit into a Fringe show is always going to be a problem. For every person’s favourite song, you leave another one out, but the set list is a good cross selection of artists and songs. This show is the sister one to “Christine Bovill's Piaf” show that I reviewed last night, and some of my favourite Piaf songs were performed last night, so it was nice to have space for other material not heard too often, including the original song from which Paul Anka used the melody to write the lyric to “My Way” over - "Comme d'Habitude” by Claude Francois (co-written with Gilles Thibaut and Jacques Revaux). For me, the melody of this song still suits best the original words and story of this song.
Another great song in either language version is the wonderful “Je t'appartiens” by Gilbert Becaud, and “Let It Be Me” by The Everly Brothers. Not everything was French/English though as we were treated to a wonderful version of -“L'Homme En Habit Rouge” by the iconic singer “Barbara”, a huge talent sadly not too well known outside of France as she never recorded songs in English.
These songs are best performed at their most basic level of singer and accompanist, in this case (as with the Piaf show), the very talented Michael Brawley. Together, Christine and Michael re-create on stage for all too short a time the magic of these wonderful words and music.
Christine’s Piaf and Paris shows are also on next week too – 20th and 21st August, same venue, same time.
Review by Tom King
Christine Bovill's Paris
The Stand’s New Town Theatre - Grand Hall
Aug 14, 21
1 hour 10 minutes
Country: United Kingdom - Scotland
Group: Christine Bovill / The Stand Comedy Club