Thursday, 9 October 2014
30 million minutes with Dawn French
I've just been to see the Dawn French solo show which was funny, poignant and like a very entertaining and somewhat personal conversation.
It'd be unfair to call it a stand-up show and was constructed as a series of carefully crafted segments from Dawn's life.
The 30 million minutes of the show's title refers to her time alive (around 50-something of our earth years) and she talked and acted her way through some of the significant moments. This was story-telling rather than gag-driven humour in a way that creates its own niche.
Completely by chance we were in the front row for this show, set on a simple black stage with AV back projections mainly comprising family photos and a few short film clips. The simplicity belied what was actually an incredibly slick set of production values. It all worked, giving bitter-sweet insights into being Dawn French, bundled with some life affirmation for the audience.
Of course Dawn also acts for a living and was able to bring in a level of emotion beyond that of many comedians. There was also good physical humour all of which added to the way that Dawn owned the stage. The audience were engaged from the very first minute of the show.
I didn't know much about Dawn French's past: her childhood as an RAF child partly spent in Cyprus; the sadness of her father's suicide; Billie, her adopted child with Lenny Henry. By the end of the evening I knew the difference between her two grannies (the naughty one and the nice one) and where to sell jewellery in Plymouth.
The show's focus was on personal life and there were only passing references to many of her show-biz exploits and friends. This wasn't tittle-tattle from the set of Vicar of Dibley or how French and Saunders got along.
So, two excellent helpings - another 120 added to those minutes, with a toffee ice-cream in between. A ten-finger point back to the stage. Yeah.