The Life of Piaf- The British Club

June 25 - July 2, 2019

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly The Life of Piaf- The British Club

PIAF, a theatrical tribute to the illustrious life and illuminating music of French singing legend, Édith Piaf, opens at the British Club stage tomorrow and runs for three performances until Saturday.

There are few as omnipresent in modern liberal French culture and pop music as the late Édith Gassion, remembered by her nickname, La Môme Piaf, the little sparrow, a reference to her tiny frame and tremendous voice. The performer, noted as France’s national chanteuse, traversed a life of peaks and valleys, accompanied by fame, addiction, fortune and anguish.

The 1978 play, PIAF, written by Pam Gems, incisively lays bare her pleasures and pains, diving deep into the experiences behind famous autobiographical songs like "L'Accordéoniste", “Milord” and “Non, je ne Regrette Rien”.

The Manama Theatre Club production, in collaboration with At the Moment Productions, created a spit-fire adaptation of this play, with a few unforgettable Piaf songs sprinkled in for added spice.

“It is not a musical, but a play that has some songs in it,” said Ali Daylami, the creative producer. “For an iconic person like Piaf, the audience comes in with a certain expectation. The challenge is, that you don’t want it to be an imitation, but rather an homage”

The 90-minute performance definitely lives up to that, staying true to most of the language and liberal content, while each actor makes their character their own.

Sowsan Hassan, the director, added, “One of the things I loved about this script is that it allowed us to play. So, we could add our own layers without taking out the essence of it”

In my opinion, the scenes with Édith (played by Mariyana AlZurikat) and her best friend Toine (played by Jenny Wassom) stole the show. The evolving friendship between the two provides the audience with a peek into the shifting moral and emotional compass within the performance.

The attention to detail is fantastic in the crew’s minimalistic costumes and simple add-ons like a fur collar here and a jacket there to convey sublime plot points. I was fascinated by Édith’s scarf initially used as a loan between friends and later, an accessory to a much darker purpose, illuminating the turmoil that prevailed over her life. The only character who got multiple full wardrobe changes was Toine, reflecting the progression in her life, while Édith stayed frozen in time.

The show is definitely worth experiencing and tickets can be purchased at the British Club. The Thursday and Saturday shows are priced at BD7 starting at 7:30pm. There is a special dinner theatre production of the show on Friday, starting at 6:45pm, with tickets priced at BD15, including a French-inspired three-course dinner to transport you into the life and times of Édith Piaf. 

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