Wilton’s Music Hall, 27 June – 1 July. Reviewed by Claire Roderick
Sitting in her antiques shop, keeping an eye on the museum which houses her portraits, the ageing Suzy Solidor reminisces about her life as the gramophone plays and her portrait is painted. Once the most painted woman in the world, Solidor was a cabaret sensation, and the first woman to own a nightclub in Paris, where she performed surrounded by her portraits. If Suzy was alive today, she’d probably make the Kardashians seem publicity-shy.
Jessica Walker’s play tells the story of Solidor’s life in an evocative and intimate way. The wonderful space of Wilton’s Music Hall is perfect, with its atmosphere of faded glamour and past glories matching the aging Solidor, and the cast prowl around the space interacting with the audience to great effect. Rather than a straightforward biographical romp, Waters has constructed a cabaret show within the play that portrays Solidor’s unravelling mind and memory, with fractured timelines and characters commenting on her confused remembrances. The bittersweet melancholy this creates is wonderful. Walker’s beautiful renditions of Solidor’s numbers (accompanied by Joseph Atkins) are thrillingly affecting, whether it’s her trademark songs about sea, sex and sailors, or more personal songs sung to important people in her life. Walker captures the fluid sexuality of Solidor perfectly, oozing arrogance and self-regard in younger and older incarnations. Rachel Austin and Alexandra Mathie play people from Solidor’s past and present, with Austin especially moving as Daisy, Solidor’s long-suffering partner, and Mathie hysterical as crossdressing singer Bambi, resplendent in bouffant blond wig and boa.
All I Want Is One Night is a little gem of a play that deserves a much wider audience. Catch it while you can.