Blitz! A Sentimental Journey

Blitz! A Sentimental Journey
By Claire Dawson & Rod Anderson. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Director: Rod Anderson. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. 14 -22 February 2014.

Blitz! A Sentimental Journey, presented by Hobart Repertory Theatre is a one-woman-and-one-accompanist show with heart and energy. Dynamic Claire Dawson dazzles - singing, dancing and interpreting the music of the 20s, 30s and 40s, when the show is set.

The original concept by Claire Dawson is based on the experiences of her late grandmother, written around her career as a performer on London stages during the World War 2 bombing.

Blitzis a show suited to an audience of anglophiles and baby boomers, although its appeal is not restricted to any generation. An interest in music, an eye for colour and movement and a desire to be entertained is all an audience needs - Dawson transports watchers to a previous time, when people needed to be distracted from the anxiety of the terror and uncertainty around them.

How could anyone not admire and respect those who lived through those times? Supported by Tasmania performs, this latest iteration of the production has been added to by writer/director Rod Anderson, in collaboration with Dawson.

Dawson has impeccable timing – her diction, moving in and out of accent, from posh to Skouse and back again, was totally believable and controlled. For almost two hours she engaged and included an adoring audience. Sing-along songs in the wartime medley, supported by pianist Craig M. Wood fairly rocketed along: Roll Out the Barrel, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Kiss Me Goodnight Sergeant Major, Who Is This Man Who Looks Like Charlie Chaplin? and more, caused laughter, while Sentimental Journey and White Cliffs of Dover created tears. Dawson handled the varied repertoire with verve and confidence – the girl can sing! She strutted, marched and danced around a striking set designed Jill Munro.

Costumes by Nicole Ottrey were lovely: glamorous satin and sequins, and a delicate yellow pleated chiffon number that floated and clung was my favourite. Wigs designed by Yolanda Peart-Smith were another essential element towards creating an authentic look, as was sound and lighting. Blitz! is a wonderful collective effort from a cohesive team, supporting a stand-out performer. The finale – Wish Me Luck As You Wave me goodbye was so rousing, I would have signed up then and there. Catch it when it tours – you will love Blitz!

Merlene Abbott 

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