Review by Carly Fisher
In Claire Feuille’s new cabaret Like Other Girls, we are asked to consider why all the women we have seen in historical fiction are…well…the same. It’s not a new question but Feuille breaks it down by musical theatre as her chosen genre and in doing so, gives this conversation a new life…and a new soundtrack.
Feuille is an engaging performer, particularly in her between song dialogue and explanation of the historical and literary injustices of the characters in question. Interspersed with this, Feuille offers personal recollections and anecdotes that present a perfect balance of humour, self depreciation and heartfelt honesty.
The show describes itself as a ‘sensible roast of musical theatre’s finest historical women’ and delivers intently on this. As we unpack each trope, you can’t help but sit there not only considering the examples laid before us, but all of the other women you’ve seen in stories and on stages too - the sad reality is that too many female characters are lumped into this same mold and Feuille does a great job at really getting you to think about why that is detrimental not just to women watching the show, but to the narratives they participate in as well.
Perhaps most impressive in the show is the cleverly curated dramaturgical flow of the piece - we are expertly guided by Feuille through a musical theatre plot that she then replicates through this cabaret. Her writing is strong and interesting throughout.
The show is packed to the brim with familiar musical content - Les Mis, Something Rotten, Hamilton to name but a few but also features delightfully less known songs like one of my favourites from the show ‘Humiliation’ from Emma. Feuille’s performance of this song too is unquestionably one of the highlights of the show - it sits so comfortably on her and is performed brilliantly.
It’s a big sing to get through this one hour cabaret and Feuille definitely has her stronger and weaker moments vocally - not all the songs selected to fuel the narrative best suit her singing ability but one is ready to overlook this fact and follow the story at hand. It is a highly commendable effort by Feuille through what looks, to another artist aware of the challenges of this medium, a seriously exhausting track. Congratulations to her.
Joining Feuille on stage is a team of fabulous musicians, the stand out of which must be the other, almost ‘guest’ like vocalist, Emily Perrault who truly shines. I would love to see what other shows she is participating in because the 2 songs we get a taste of her talent in simply leave you wanting more.
Charlie Wilson on vocals and guitar and Rose Van Dyne (musical director) on piano round out the team to offer a truly engaging performance. Wilson and Feuille’s Something Rotten duet is another stand out moment of the performance for me.
A show for the musical theatre loving feminist within so many of us.
Image Credit: Gareth Shaw