Review: The Liberation of Colette Simple, Jacksons Lane

“Now concentrate, Colette”

Based on one of the numerous short plays that Tennessee Williams left behind (in this The Case of the Crushed Petunias), The Liberation of Colette Simple sees eight lyricists of different persuasions writing songs to French composer Vincent Guibert’s music to tell the story of small-businesswoman Colette. It’s an admirably ambitious project and one that is surprisingly successful as the varied writers have been given just enough leeway to stamp their own identity on their pieces but not so much that Guibert’s score can’t still unify them all.

Nathalie Carrington’s Colette is resigned to middle-American obscurity when one morning she awakes to find that the outside world has intruded into her shop and ruined her flowers. From then on, nothing’s quite the same for Colette as she has to deal with the trespasser, a policeman, a nosy neighbour and the furrowed brow (if they have them) of her pet canary – all played by Gary Tushaw in an excellently diverse range of styles. And with this rupture in her daily routine comes the question, will things go back to normal? Does she even want them to?

Matt Peover’s direction has a beautiful fluidity to it and as James Cotterill’s design unleashes its many surprises with a striking flourish, it is hard not to get swept up in the stirring emotion of the piece. Tonally it could perhaps do with a little more variety across the hour but that runs the risk of losing the aforementioned cohesion, more significantly the volume of the band does hamper the lyrical clarity at a few key moments. Still, a fascinating debut from Spatfeather, a much delayed first visit for me to Jacksons Lane and a rather adorably quirky little show.

Running time: 1 hour (without interval)
Booking until 4th October

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