Signs Of A Star Shaped Diva – New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich

Recent productions from Graeae have been somewhat a hit and miss affair. Flower Girls had dramatic potential that was lost in a confusing production while last year’s Snow White never quite hit the mark.

Thankfully with Signs of a Star Shaped Diva, Graeae have returned to top form. In this comic and moving piece we follow the rise of Northern undertaker Sue Graves as she turns into international cabaret star Tammy Frascati. Tammy’s unique take on the world of cabaret is to perform the songs from the world’s greatest diva in sign language. Her talent takes her from the working mans clubs to the heights of Las Vegas but on the way she faces heartache and despair.

Writer Nona Shepphard has crafted a witty and poignant piece with plenty of opportunity for both humour and pathos but the true highlight of the evening is Caroline Parker’s tour de force performance. Her transformation from quiet undertaker to show –stopping Diva is thoroughly convincing and her performances of some of the greatest Torch Songs from the songbook are inspired. If you are a signer or not you will find new levels of enjoyment in these classic songs.

Some lighting issues, especially in act one need to be resolved but by the time Tammy arrived in Vegas any lighting problems have been rectified. Directors Jenny Sealey and Nona Shepphard could also look at making the first act less static although this is difficult in a one woman show.

Despite these minor niggles, this is one show that is well worth catching on its current UK tour and one that will send you out with a smile on your face. You will never be able to listen to Celine Dion, Bette Midler or Tammy Wynette in the same way again!

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