Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
Life is a cabaret of a largely unglamorous kind for Frances Edwards, the small town girl with stars in her eyes in Rachel Flynn’s new play. As she puts on top hat and a smile to shimmy her way through her Liza Minnelli tribute act around Scotland’s civic hall circuit, Frances is accompanied on piano by her overbearing dad Pete, who has been pushing his daughter to succeed ever since her mother ditched them. Enter stage left accountant and would-be crooner Tony, who provides a distraction for Frances, while she quietly makes plans to see the world on her own terms.
With Flynn herself playing Frances in Ryan Alexander Dewar’s production for the new Interabang company at the latest Formation festival of grassroots theatre, this is a double-edged sword of a show. As with the likes of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, it lays bare the domestic and back-stage nitty-gritty while also showcasing its leading lady’s own talents as a showbiz diva.
This is something Flynn takes full advantage of over the play’s hour-long length, one minute sparring with Pete as any father and daughter might, the next belting out sparkly Liza Minnelli classics with chutzpah and pizazz. Both James Keenan as Pete and Benjamin Story as Tony act as perfect foils for Frances, high-kicking her way through things even as she learns to stand on her own two feet.
While things might easily be fleshed out in terms of colouring in what became of Frances’ mother, as it stands it has a well-rooted understanding of Hollywood style fables absorbed from Sunday afternoon matinees. Having already played Dorothy in Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Christmas production of The Wizard of Oz last year, Flynn is clearly steeped in the mythology of Minnelli and her mother Judy Garland. This debut play takes her fascination and fandom to the next level in a smart and sensitive study of a young woman on the cusp which may yet go on to greater glory.
The Herald, July 1st 2019