The Carpenters Songbook at theSpace @ Surgeons’ Hall is brought to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe by Night Owl Shows, as part of their very successful series of productions which tell the stories of Carole King, James Taylor, and Dolly Parton, amongst others.
The shows follow a tried and tested format of having film telling the person’s life story, and singers and musicians performing their music, in this case Charlotte Brereton and Dan Clews as Karen and Richard Carpenter.
Although The Carpenters were around (and having hit records) when I was in my teens, at the time it was deemed very “uncool” to like them, with their wholesome, all-American image, and they tended to pass me by. With hindsight, they performed songs with beautiful lyrics, which were often extremely sad.
Charlotte has the perfect voice for these Carpenters songs, a voice with great purity and at times almost heartbreaking beauty, and with the ability to fill the words with emotion and melancholy. Again with hindsight, listening to the lyrics it seems so obvious that Karen Carpenter was suffering even throughout the time when she was a very successful performer. As most people who like their music will know, Karen Carpenter suffered from anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphia for most of her life, and eventually died from heart failure in February 1983, shortly before her 33rd birthday.
All the hits you would expect are in the show, including “(They Long To Be) Close to You”, “We’ve Only Just Begun”, and “Yesterday Once More”, although with one or two less expected ones. Although there is a tinge of sadness to the show, don’t let that put you off, as it is a wonderful celebration of the legacy that The Carpenters left behind
The Carpenters Songbook
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall
Country: United Kingdom - England
Group: Night Owl Shows
Review by Lisa Sibbald