The Other Palace Studio Theatre – 28 October. Reviewed by Claire Roderick
Monica Salvi invites you to become fellow inmates in her lunatic asylum for this tragi-comic therapy session with her own psychothera-pianist.
After being continuously typecast as the crazy characters in musicals, Salvi’s deliciously dark cabaret celebrates the madwomen that have inspired brilliant songs. Mad-eyed and mischievous, Salvi delights in the quirks of the women, and has a voice that soars through the songs brilliantly.
Carrying on her stories as she changes into ever more bonkers costumes, Salvi channels Norma Desmond and Bertha Rochester with powerhouse vocals, but is equally at home with Sondheim and Kander & Ebb. There’s lots of flirting with musical director Michael Ferreri, who manfully keeps a straight face throughout, and shows his own vocal talent in the lovely duet I Had a Dream About You. Another Maury Yeston number, By the River, is a guaranteed tearjerker, and Salvi is heart-breaking in her vulnerability as she gazes into the distance.
The laughs come fast and hard, along with some disturbing insights into damaged psyches that will set you giggling with a slight twinge of guilt. Salvi is such an energetic and beguiling performer that she even manages to make the old chestnut of audience participation – the percussion band – hysterical and slightly dangerous. Speaking of dangerous, the gentleman chosen to perform the Masochism Tango with Salvi deserves an award for remaining stony-faced as madness reigned all around him.
Monica Salvi’s incredible voice and her perfectly judged repertoire of songs makes Mad Women in My Attic! a stunning cabaret, full of wit and weirdness that will have the audience smiling, singing and squirming in quick succession.