DCSIMG

REVIEW: Dawn French, 30 Million Minutes, Grand Theatre, Blackpool, September 3

Dawn French brings her 30 Million Minutes tour to Blackpool's Grand Theatre

Dawn French brings her 30 Million Minutes tour to Blackpool's Grand Theatre

When you’ve grown up admiring a certain artist’s work, getting to eventually see them live is a risky business.

When you’ve grown up admiring a certain artist’s work, getting to eventually see them live is a risky business.

But I needn’t have feared that comedienne Dawn French couldn’t live up to expectations - in fact she probably surpassed them.

Whether you know and love her as one half of French and Saunders or as The Vicar Of Dibley, her one-woman show 30 Million Minutes will not be what you’re expecting.

It’s not stand up, it’s not a laugh-a-minute comedy gig, it’s a monologue, almost in the style of Alan Bennett Talking Heads; combining wit and woe with pathos and peeing your pants laughter.

Perhaps a little over-scripted and performed in what seemed a not overly natural fashion compared to Dawn’s usual delivery style, this is without doubt a moving and endearing piece of theatre.

Telling the story of her 56 years (which adds up to 30 million minutes, or thereabouts) Dawn draws on her family and friends and how they shaped the woman she is today.

The laughs begin pretty early on, with a tale of the Queen Mother’s visit to her family home on an RAF base, with the Dawn Mother and Dawn Sergeant Father’s preparations and a beautiful piece of RAF archive film documenting three-year-old Dawn’s fantastic reaction to seeing the Queen Mother’s black teeth.

While the first half covers her formative years, from that base, to an idyllic posting to Cyprus, through to school in Plymouth, the second half looks at the way her all-important family has impacted on her life.

Good granny and evil granny were each formidable women, in their own ways, although perhaps the ‘evil’ one - with her 3am gin alarm - certainly provided the stronger material.

But it was Dawn’s emotional tributes to her mum, dad and daughter Billie, and husband’s past and present, which really pulled on the heartstrings.

In a clever theatrical trick, the section about her father’s suicide, when Dawn was just 19, switches from live dialogue to a recorded track - allowing for the inevitable emotion she must feel at this moment.

Having grown up in Plymouth, where Dawn spent her teenage years and where her mum settled down, tales from this time were especially poignant for me, and I was perhaps - understandably - rather alone in some of my laughter at these stories.

But come the closing line - what may well become my new life’s mantra: “Kate Moss was wrong when she said nothing tastes as good as skinny feels... Pasties” - Dawn held the audience in the palm of her hands, earning warm applause and a standing ovation from some corners too.

Anna Cryer

 

Comments

 
 

Back to the top of the page