In a tour de force performance, the multi-talented Christie Whelan Browne (The Drowsy Chaperone) takes us on a journey on Christmas Eve, while visiting her character’s dying mother. But don’t fret, Vigil is no downer.
Using Steve Vizard’s words and lyrics, and composer Joe Chindamo’s original music, Whelan Browne mesmerises us, switching seamlessly from humour to pathos. She channels the persona of 30-something Liz and reflects her years in her mum’s company. Especially noteworthy are the moments of embarrassment.
Liz also seizes the opportunity to take a whack or two at her goody-two-shoes older sister. The former is nothing if not honest, but she is also decidedly needy, someone who hasn’t always made the best choices in life.
Returning after an extended period abroad, Liz is short of money and clearly likes to party. Whelan Browne chats and warbles (she has a delightful, clear singing voice), acutely proficient and comfortable in either mode, holding the audience in the palms of her hands for all 90 minutes without interval. The melancholy notes are few, as the wit and verve in the writing shines through.
It is a most accomplished display by a performer about whom I am fast running out of superlatives. Suffice to say, one is undoubtedly richer for having seen her in this dynamic and endearing show. Accompanying her on piano is composer Chindamo, with Zoe Black on violin and Molly Kadarauch on cello. There is much to be proud of and excited by here.
Vigil is a sheer delight from start to finish. Please do not miss it. It is playing at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, until 8 July 2017.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Britney Spears: The Cabaret (Chapel off Chapel) – theatre review
- Coral Browne (fortyfivedownstairs) – theatre review
- Jesus Christ Superstar (The Production Co) – theatre review
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television