Review – Both Sides Now: Sian Phillips in cabaret, Pizza On The Park

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Sian Phillips

“Is she that weather girl?” If the Whingers had a pound for every time they have been asked that over the last few weeks the would have three pounds by now.

Perhaps that weather girl might have warned them not to be so foolish as to book a late May matinee of anything.

But there was no weather girl to advise them and so it was that on the hottest Sunday afternoon of the year the Whingers found themselves in the sweltering, subterranean Pizza On The Park.

Sadly while other Londoners got to frolic in the Serpentine lido across the road, this was the only chance for the Whingers to catch one of the three performances by Sian Phillips in the American Songbook in London season (two of which have now passed so Sunday 31st May at 7pm is your only chance).

Sian Phillips 2

Miss Phillips (otherwise engaged in Calendar Girls) has been doing her Both Sides Now cabaret for a few years now. Andrew was lucky enough to catch it at the Oxo Tower in 2003 and is pleased to be able to report that it has not changed – the same selection of songs (Coward, Sondheim, Rodgers & Hart, Gerswhin, Carmichael, Flanders & Swann, Joni Mitchell) , the same laugh-out-loud anecdotes ( a wildly funny one about Marlene Dietrich; another gem courtesy of Beryl Reid which is destined to become a WEW catchphrase – we’re dying to tell both to you. And we will for the price of a drink) and a stonkingly moving rendition of “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”

Astonishingly Phillips revealed that she has never appeared in a Noël Coward play on stage. It’s time someone corrected that. But disappointingly what she didn’t reveal were any anecdotes about the men in her life. Phil who imagines quite a lot of things, began to think he’d imagined reading that she would do this, but he hadn’t, he had read about it here.

And if the Flanders and Swann song “Madeira M’Dear” cam dangerously close to being a song about date rape, Phillips delivered it superbly, as she did with all her material particularly Coward’s “A Bar on the Piccola Marina” and Sondheim’s hilarious “The Boy From…”.

We’re not convinced about her Gary Rhodes hairdo, but otherwise it was 1 hour 20 minutes of pure delight.

One Response to “Review – Both Sides Now: Sian Phillips in cabaret, Pizza On The Park”

  1. Bruce Parr Says:

    One story I remember from Ms Phillips’ show I saw at the Rose Theatre, Kingston last year (could it have been from Beryl Reid?): young boy with his mother shopping for toilet paper, “Oh no, not white again! My bottom’s crying out for a bit of colour!”

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