Made in the Shade

In a showcase of fifties jazz music, Sarah Henderson, Loes van der Laan and Emma Turnbull, or the Fabulous D. Dolls, present Made in the Shade, a concert with a back-story, where the audience is allowed a glimpse at the lives of the characters’ performing.

Opening with a backstage set, a tannoy announces the countdown to the ‘show’, but for the real audience, the show has already begun. Liberally applying make-up and continuously changing outfits, the three women intersperse their classic songs with their own backstories, discussing love, life and jazz music. Eventually moving off the real stage onto the floor below, away from their dressing room set, but metaphorically on-stage for the start of the ‘show’, the second half continues the flow of classic songs through progressively tenuous linking devices. Whilst the stylistic direction adds a twist to the conventional concert format, giving a theoretically appealing humanity to the singers through the intimacy of their dressing room chat, the descent to the floor not only restricts the audience’s view, but aesthetically looks wrong, as the highly decorated stage/ dressing room overshadows and distracts from the plain carpet area. The linking devices get increasingly irritating, particularly when created through the heavy-handed German stereotypes provided by Helga, whose unsurprising love of sausages is crammed in at every possible moment, and not just into the script.

Whilst the three women have nice voices, harmonize well, and perform some timeless classics, the charade of characterization is ineffective. Musically, Made in the Shade is good, with an excellent accompaniment of double bass, keys and drums, and whilst their dancing skills are a little ropey, the D. Dolls are talented singers and performers. An ordinary concert would have been much better. Next time, they shouldn’t try and jazz it up.

Reviews by Katherine Burr

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The Blurb

It’s the 1950s. Backstage, three female singers prepare for their gig. Take a peek through the keyhole of their dressing room to see and hear what’s on their minds. Jazz, probably...

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