Marie Lloyd Stole My Life

We have more than likely at some point in our lives, heard of music hall star Marie Lloyd. But have you ever heard of her contemporary Nelly Power? After this year, you certainly will know her name because of Marie Lloyd Stole My Life.

The ideal combination of subtle comedy, song, friendliness and sensitivity

It should be pointed out from the start that not much is documented about Nelly Power generally. However, due to the persistant research and tenacity of writer J.J Leppink, director Ed Barrett, performer Lottie Walker and pianist James Hall, what we saw was not just a celebration of Music Hall as a genre. It was an intriguing insight into someone who had been overshadowed by Lloyd's celebrity status, as well as a raw, honest take on life and the world of theatre. What we know for sure about Power is that she rescued someone from drowning, escaped an abusive marriage and won her divorce case (very rare for a women in those times to come out on top), became well known for the songs Don't Dilly Dally On The Way and the song that Lloyd stole from her; The Boy In The Gallery and died in poverty. She also had an upbringing that made her appreciate theatre and performing, as well as a mother who came across as someone who liked to interfere in Power's life.

Putting these pieces together can be tricky, but Bluefire Theatre Company's intricate way of creating a show, showcasing what potentially could have happened in Power's life really drew the audience in not just via the writing, but by a very simple set up - including a keyboard covered with burgundy velvet, a table covered with the same material and very simple props such as playing cards, a book and more. This combined with an authentic costume that Power herself would have worn in female form when not in drag for pantomimes made us engaged with her story.

In places it seemed rushed with some of the lines, but it was pointed out during the show that normally the full length performance has what may have happened during a set of Power's. Due to another show in the theatre, this had to be trimmed down and only got a small section of that Power song book at the end, which explains why it felt rushed at times. It would be interesting to see Marie Lloyd Stole My Life in its entirety to really capture the full picture of this incredible woman so sensitively portrayed by Lottie Walker. She played with the concept of breaking of the fourth wall to the extent that when she shared life and theatre advice with the young girl who came to see her, it felt like the audience became the young girl receiving this honest, down to earth reality about men, sexuality and who to trust in entertainment.

Walker combined with the musical talent of James Hall brought the ideal combination of subtle comedy, song, friendliness and sensitivity; which in turn left us wanting more.

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Since you’re here…

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You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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The Blurb

The Victorian Music Hall: Discrimination, sexual exploitation, domestic violence and press intrusion. Don’t seem like such “good old days” now, do they? Nelly Power, star of the Victorian Music Hall struck an early blow for women’s rights by owning her own properties and divorcing her husband. She was a household name and a huge success. Until her hit song was stolen by the young Marie Lloyd. This is the true tale of the soap opera that was Nelly's life, set in the not-so-glamorous world of Victorian showbusiness. It’s a bit Ripper Street and bit of Eastenders With songs! All together now. "Beautifully written" ★★★★★ (Lou Reviews) "Beautifully crafted, superbly acted" ★★★★★ (Mark Aspen Reviews)

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