Cafe Society Swing, Theatre Royal Stratford East

Image result for cafe society swing, theatre royal stratford east

by an anonymous guest critic

An evening of spectacular performances depict the true story of New York’s first jazz club, Cafe Society, run by immigrants and allowed black and white audiences to integrate. The club’s audiences watched the most talented performers of their time, including Billie Holiday, who gave her first performance of harrowingly beautiful lynching song ‘Strange Fruit’ there.

It was controversial then, but hard to imagine whilst sitting in the wonderfully diverse venue of Theatre Royal Stratford East that this is still a recent part of our history. The story of Barney Josephson, a shoe salesman from Trenton, New Jersey who has fallen on hard times and decides to try his hand at club management, is told to us through narrator (Peter Gerald) who takes us on the journey whilst accompanied by an eight piece band and that play live on stage throughout in the smoky nightclub haze.

All the actors gave stellar musical performances, in particular from the women Lena Horne (Judi Jackson), Sarah Vaughan (China Moses) and sensational Billie Holiday (Vimala Rowe). Whilst imitating the greats they also add their own flair to the vocals, reminding us how truly versatile special the jazz style is.

It really is an evening of entertainment celebrating not only this form of music but how far we have come as the human race. Though at times the form can seem quite repetitive, it is supported by a fantastic musical score and the final rendition of ‘Strange Fruit’ makes it an evening I would recommend to everyone.

Cafe Society Swing runs through 16 June.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s