TO Fringe Review: The Sparrow and the Mouse

Toronto – Whatever else one might say about The Sparrow and the Mouse: Creating the Music of Edith Piaf, this much is true: performer Melanie Gall has a wonderful singing voice.

In the original French or in English translation, Gall does great things with Edith Piaf songs like “Je Ne Regrette Rien”and “La Vie en Rose.” An opera singer by trade who’s performed in countries all over the world, Gall’s singing is worth the price of admission. The play she’s written around the songs, however…well, it’s not as good.

Gall plays Simone Berteault, Piaf’s closest friend and half-sister, and describes Piaf’s life, from her humble beginnings to international stardom. The problem is, while Piaf’s life story is pretty amazing, Gall delivers it as if she’s reading Piaf’s Wikipedia article aloud. It’s just not compelling theatre. The only person on stage aside from pianist Erin Craig, Gall acts out different parts of Piaf’s life between songs, like holding a doll and acting like Piaf’s mom, pretending to be Piaf on the streets, miming a mother/doll scene again when Piaf gives birth. Sometimes while she does this, Gall’s recorded voice continues the life story narration while she does things silently. This seems unnecessary, since Gall doesn’t do that much during these scenes and could probably handle both duties at once, and it’s occasionally awkward when Gall’s live voice and recorded voice step on each other’s lines.

Gall’s singing saves it from being that bad, though. While Craig’s piano sounds a bit tinny in the big hall of Bathurst Street Theatre, Gall’s voice fills up the room, without amplification. If you have any fondness for Piaf or opera singing, it might be worth seeing, but otherwise this is probably a miss.

The Sparrow and the Mouse plays at Venue 3. Check your Fringe program or the online play listings for showtimes.

Posted on by Brian in Fringe, Reviews, Theatre

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