With her white dress glowing in the dark auditorium of Crazy Coqs, Miss Monica Salvi climbs onto the bar to open her one-woman cabaret show Mad Woman in my Attic!. Her alluring voice and sweet smile invite the audience to join her as inmates in the Zedel Asylum as the Italian diva strives to revisit the many characters she has played in her lifetime.
Mad Women in my Attic! feels simultaneously like the star's autobiography and a journey through hundred years of musical theatre history. One show tune after the next guides the audience through her show as Salvi opens up about what has brought her to where she is today – and all the mad women she has portrayed along the way.
Intended as a fun exploration into female hysteria, Salvi belts out one song after another as she tries to figure out why it is always the mad women that leave such an impression on her and not the mad men – or as society calls them – geniuses.
After 60-minutes of show tunes, it is still not entirely clear why the show is performed in the intimate cabaret venue as Salvi’s cabaret set has taken a backseat in her show and given way to a musical range of ballads and musicals. Seemingly glued to the spotlight, Salvi hardly ever brings up the courage to make the space her own by filling it with her stage presence.
And her musical rollercoaster takes us through classics such as ‘Sweeney Todd’, Webber’s ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and ‘Jane Eyre’. Disrupted by the occasional ponder about love and masochism, Salvi’s song choices make it hard to follow her train of thought. Combined with a general lack of confidence and technical difficulties, Mad Women in my Attic! doesn’t have the empowering grip that the protagonist promises in her letter to the audience. Spotlights in the wrong places, iffy microphones, and an inability to draw the audience in to be fully engrossed in the show leave us with a semi-satisfied feeling.
Semi-improvised ad lips are delivered with uncertainty, as well as audience interaction that needs more than the occasional touchy-feely, making the “innuendos and crescendos” fall flat to slight smiles from disengaged audience members.
Review: Shirley Both