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Lady Carol Must Die
Published on Thursday, 09 August 2012
3

3 stars

The Assembly Rooms (venue website)
Cabaret
2 Aug, 4:15pm-5:15pm; 3-12, 14-26 Aug, 6:30pm-7:30pm
Reviewed by Anne Stirling

 Recommended for age 16+ only.

Lady Carol skulks into her plush studio venue, cloaked in a signature burgundy hooded gown and platinum blonde ringlets. She evokes a sultry Red Riding Hood image… which she swiftly dispels, as she chatters away with Irish lightness and rapidity. Interspersed between a recount of her family history, she offers us mournful renditions of various songs accompanied by her beloved ukulele. While her singing voice is unique and hauntingly resonant, her tale is not, and this disparity unravels what could have been a moving show.

The show essentially revolves around her turbulent relationship with her father. In her patter, she underplays the story, but her musical choices reveal how deeply she still feels each hurdle of their past. From Nick Cave's Weeping Song to Simon and Garfunkel's Sound of Silence, Carol signposts each chapter of her story with wailed choruses and an appropriately furrowed brow. Her patois and cutesy looks to her audience have their charms, but I felt her tale wasn’t quite as tumultuous as she wanted it to be, and there was an uncomfortable contrast between the downplayed narrative and the overtly melancholic songs.

As she sings her songs, Lady Carol plays a slide show of old photographs of herself – revealing her journey from girl to adolescent, and eventually the woman we see on the stage. While I found the transformation intriguing, I thought the slides a tad self-indulgent and a little unprofessional, especially as she’d made full use of the multifarious animated transitions PowerPoint has to offer. Her awkwardness in controlling the projector – she does it herself – as well as a couple of fumbles on the ukulele deprived some of the pieces of the gravitas I think she was aiming for.

What saves the show is Lady Carol's voice. Her interpretations of her selections don't stray far from the original, but her vocal talent is strong. Her choice of instrument contrasts beautifully with her own deep and mellow timbre, and she engenders silent awe in her audience whenever she sings.

She has the voice, the look, a story to tell and a quirky instrument to play. Unfortunately though, Lady Carol Must Die doesn't quite live up to the sum of its parts.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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