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I Dreamed A Dream


Theatre Royal, Newcastle
3 stars
When the lights go up on a real life Susan Boyle before she launches 
into her now anthemic take on I Dreamed A Dream, everything that’s 
happened in the previous two and a half hours pales into 
insignificance. It’s not that this musical and dramatic tribute to the 
West Lothian woman who became a global phenomenon following her 2009 
appearance on TV freak show, Britain’s Got Talent, doesn’t hit the spot 
occasionally. It’s just that the still wonderfully untutored SuBo does 
it so much better.

Written by Alan McHugh with Elaine C Smith as a star vehicle for the 
latter, the play finds Boyle hemmed-in and hounded by paparazzi and 
unable to cope with her sudden fame. The audience becomes her confidant 
as she watches over her own story, from a low-expectations birth to 
that fateful Glasgow audition that changed her life. Inbetween come 
snapshots of small-town life; school bullying, thwarted romance, low 
self-esteem, all set to a series of sixties and seventies social club 
cabaret hits.

In this respect the show is partly the sort of rock n’ roll nostalgia 
trip McHugh is so adept at, part rags to riches schmaltz with dialogue 
that at times sounds lifted straight from a greeting card. If there are 
some seriously cringe-worthy moments in Ed Curtis’ production, set on a 
back-drop of stacked-up TV sets that look leftover from The Man Who 
Fell To Earth, Smith herself cuts a sincere if at times self-reflexive 
figure. As the script itself admits, Boyle’s story has no ending yet. 
For all its heartstring-tugging, perhaps, as with its subject, it’s a 
case of too much too soon.

The Herald, March 28th 2012

ends



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