An Audience With Shurl

An Audience With Shurl is a highly intimate, moving picture of the inner life of a very lonely woman. Shurl is funny, gentle and possessed of a childlike innocence. You will want to spend time with her.

Delivery is faultlessly naturalistic, jumping from topic to topic and mood to mood in an entirely credible fashion.

Shurl welcomes you into her dressing room as she prepares for a night out, and over the course of her preparations, she tells the story of her life. She begins with her earliest memories (like climbing down the fourteen steps to the loo in her grandmother's outhouse in the Welsh Valleys) and continues through her childhood, her traumatic teens, her eccentric adulthood spent following Shirley Bassey around on tour.

The perfect fusion of script and performer is to be expected, since Sue Bevan both wrote and stars in it, but it is still an impressive feat. I found myself wondering whether the play was actually autobiographical, so vivid and real are the stories Bevan tells. Her delivery is faultlessly naturalistic, jumping from topic to topic and mood to mood in an entirely credible fashion.

The show has some highly surreal elements which are occasionally a little jarring, pushing the character's eccentricity into the realms of serious delusion or deep metaphor, but in the skilled hands of the performer, they are woven into the more naturalistic tone that makes up the bulk of the show. At their most successful moments, these snatches of surrealism lift the show to a new level.

This is a beautifully executed piece of storytelling, with a very solid narrative that is worth the telling. If it occasionally loses us, it is always careful to bring us back again.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

‘A true diamond of Prague Fringe 2013 - a gripping and unexpected highlight!’ (Fragility Theatre). Nominated for the Outstanding Performance award at the Czech Festival. ‘Storytelling at its very best... sad and sweet and beautiful... gorgeously plotted... a voice redolent of valley forests and fireside chats’ **** (EdFringeReview.com). In telling one woman’s story, Shurl speaks to every woman’s experience. Laugh and cry along as she follows her diva heroine from obscure backwater in the Welsh Valleys to the pizazz of Vegas – but not a single Bassey song to be heard! Wholly irresistible!