15/01/2015 - 24/01/2015
‘Siren’ blends Lili’s classical roots with dark eclectic songs in a theatrical voyage through salt-sprayed music in the key of sea. Having achieved international success, many five star reviews and multiple award nominations with her previous shows, ‘War Notes’ and ‘Songs to Make You Smile’, the delicious Lili la Scala returns with her new solo show, ‘Siren’. Her most ambitious show yet, Lili has gathered some of the most haunting music from both the classical and cabaret worlds to create this mysterious and enigmatic experience.
15-24 Jan, 5.15pm
The Press CLUB at Christ’s College
Review by Erin Harrington 16th Jan 2015
I am still surprised at the number of people I talk to in Christchurch who are convinced that the World Buskers Festival isn’t for them because they’re not into pitch shows or physical comedy. The festival has enormous scope and this year Siren, from classically trained singer and cabaret star Lili la Scala, is an outstanding example of the broad variety of top international acts that we are spoilt rotten to be able to access.
In Siren la Scala presents a dark and stormy collection of songs inspired by the sea. The pieces, performed in partnership with pianist Tom Barnes, range from 30s ballads and traditional sea shanties to more recent songs by Tom Waits and Tim Buckley. The overall effect is yearning, mournful, exciting and sometimes frightening, but the darkness and the sadness in many of the songs is offset by la Scala’s light touch.
A highlight is a new adaptation of The Wreck of the Hesperus, composed by Michael Rouslton, which is epic in its scope and presentation: all furious dread and crashing waves.
The thing I really like about Lili la Scala – apart from her exquisitely nuanced voice, her wry presentation and her lovely taste in sea-witchy frocks and manicures – is that she is totally committed to story. Each song becomes its own tightly bounded world of high drama. While the evocative nautical set dressing and the moody lighting certainly work towards achieving this atmosphere – all beckoning mermaids, drowned sailors and wild-eyed salt-sprayed helmsmen – the magic is in the fine details: the movement of her wrist, the tilt of her chin, the cast of her eye. She’s a natural story-teller and it’s quite captivating.
My only issue – as with her wonderful show at the festival last year – is the space. Griping about performance space in Christchurch post-quake is like smacking a dead horse repeatedly over the head with a bit of two-by-four, but it seems a shame to me that such an intimate performance is scheduled in the cavernous maw of the Christ’s College assembly hall, especially as noise pollution from people laughing in the foyer starts poking through at particularly inopportune times. It is to la Scala’s credit that she achieves a sense of closeness in such an oversized space.
I thoroughly enjoy this show, especially having seen her perform last year and being able to see the shifts in tone and focus between the two acts. I’d happily watch Lili all night, only stopping between songs to ask her if she’ll be my new best friend.
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