Lady Madonna

Madonna is the queen of pop. Madonna is the queen of reinvention. Madonna is the ultimate material girl. Madonna is a business woman. Madonna is a wife and mother. Madonna is a humanitarian. Madonna is an icon.

With the talent on offer there’s definitely the opportunity to develop this forty-minute show, but at the moment it doesn’t hold together as a piece of theatre.

Madonna is not sympathetic.

This is the ultimate downfall of this devised piece from a group of young women attending the Royal Masonic School for Girls, who are performing at the festival under the guise of the About Turn Theatre Company. The show presents a snapshot of Madge’s life, from her earliest days running away to New York to her infamous 1994 David Letterman interview. The cast present choreographed performances of her music throughout the show in an effort to emphasise the different emotional states the singer has found herself throughout her controversial career.

There is an interesting show to be made about Madonna. She’s a pioneer of the pop mainstream, having pushed the hyper-sexualised persona customary today into widespread acceptability. She’s also, arguably, a pertinent example of a woman consumed by the music industry, stripped of her humanity to become pure provocateur. Unfortunately, the reverie surrounding Madonna in this production relinquishes any opportunity for meaningful investigation of her as an artist. It was almost like this was devised by Madonna herself, completely eschewing the awful things an artist of her clout must have had to do to get to where she is today.

Instead, she is painted only as a victim who has overcome great obstacles to achieve her success. Towards the beginning of the play, we focus on the death of her mother and her subsequent rape after arriving in New York. This comes across as tonally jarring, almost to the point of distaste, when contextualised within the rest of the piece.

The most uncomfortable aspect of this production is the set of risqué costumes worn by a cast who appear a touch too young to be presenting themselves in such a sexualised manner. They are a vocally talented ensemble, and there’s some well-executed contemporary dance within the performance, but About Turn need to focus on crafting a more distinctive narrative, playing up Madonna’s emotional development as much as her chronology.

With the talent on offer there’s definitely the opportunity to develop this forty-minute show, but at the moment it doesn’t hold together as a piece of theatre.

Reviews by Joe Christie

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★★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

The Queen of Pop. Queen of Reinvention. Ultimate Material Girl. From Catholic schoolgirl to Kabbalah Icon, the New York streets to Malibu Beach, Holiday to Celebration- every detail counts in this new piece by critically acclaimed About Turn.