Mad Women in My Attic!
Cabaret sensation Monica Salvi’s Mad Women in My Attic! delivers an evening of curiosity, wit and stellar musical performance. Driven by an unique premise – undoubtedly inspired by the seminal Gilbert & Gubar feminist literary criticism text of the same name – Salvi delivers songs inspired by heroines too quickly judged by classic social boundaries and norms.
Opening with Salvi sneaking out of a cupboard on stage, she is joined by her psychotherapist-cum-pianist, where she performs a selection of songs from her attic cell. We, the lucky the audience, become inmates of this cabaret asylum with our deranged hostess taking us through a variety of musical numbers.
Salvi is a captivating performer with an impressive vocal range as shown in performances of tracks such as Lady Syphilis and a rendition of Just One Look (from Sunset Boulevard) – the latter set to give you chills. Salvi reveals an excellent sense of nuance, packing heartfelt emotion into numbers from Sondheim, Kander & Ebb, Heisler & Goldrich, and Tom Lehrer. Each of these performances is given appropriate build up and context exploring why it is a relevant addition to the set and this is delivered with Salvi’s wit and comic edge.
Whilst Salvi is undeniably an impressive songstress, praise should also go to her acting calibrate. She embodies the Norma Desmond style star – driven by madness and music. Yet, this sense of madness also works as a comic tool for Salvi who brings an unhinged glamour to the confines of her attic cell – littered with only a piano, chaise-lounge, and changing shield at the back. This atmospheric little set is crafted in a way that does allow us to be transported to Salvi’s fictional asylum setting.
Mad Women in My Attic provides several opportunities for audience interaction – some of these feeling somewhat strained. An ‘asylum band’ where several audience members are taken from their seats to play basic instruments against Salvi’s performance feels a little laboured. Whilst we cannot help but feel sorry for the audience member forced into an S&M tango with Salvi in-front of a theatre full of people. Salvi is enough of a presence in herself, so these moments subsequently feel a little unnecessary.
Mad Women in My Attic is a cabaret treat. Monica Salvi packs wit and vocal prowess into this intelligent and amusing evening which is tied together by an impressive, well-executed concept.